As described on the Background Information page, I am interested in the trajectories of the development of cognition (especially attention) so as to know when, where, and how best to intervene to help children who struggle in school or socially. My lab is currently collecting data for the projects:
Infants with siblings with Autism Spectrum Disorder
I am collecting data from infants (3-12 months old) who have at least one siblings with ASD. Infants come to the lab and perform two visual tasks (to measure novelty preference and reflexive attention to movement). We collect saliva and fecal (stool) samples and the parents complete a questionnaire. We are use the saliva to analyze genetic information and the fecal samples to analyze gut microbiota, which can influence the brain and behavior. We will compare the data with infants of the same age range who have no first, second, or third degree relatives with autism.
Genetic and Environmental Influences on Reflexive Attention in Infants
This study is similar to the Infants with siblings with ASD; however, we are only recruiting infants from 3-6 months old, infants in the general population can participate, and there is no fecal sample collection.
Attention Task Performance in Children with and without mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Children (7-17 years old) with a mild brain injury (such as a concussion during sports) will complete several computer based attention tasks. The concussion must be have occurred in the past year. Interested participants will be scanned at BYU's MRI Research Facility and will receive a picture of their brain. We will compare the data with children of the same age range without any history of concussion.
The Developmental Trajectories of Women with ASD or with the Broader Autism Phenotype
Although approximately 80% of individuals diagnosed with ASD are male, increasingly researchers realize that there are girls and women who are in significant distress with symptoms of autism but who are frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed. To systematically describe this concern, we will ask questions regarding the developmental course of girls and women who experience fatigue after social interactions, social confusion, or social anxiety. Our project will also provide state-of-the-art ADOS-2 assessment with a score report the participants can take to a provider and a personalized list of resources that may be helpful to participants.
Performance Similarities and Differences Observed in Children on Sustained and Reflexive Attention Tasks
I am comparing performance on a reflexive (automatic) attention task to performance on sustained (effortful) attention in children 7-14 years old.