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Autism and Related Disorders

Autism and Related Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are two major neuropsychiatric conditions that quite commonly occur together. In both conditions, genetic and non genetic factors are implicated.

The Autism and Related Disorders (ARD) Lab studies the causes, early manifestations and consequences of ASD and ADHD using genetic, epidemiological, cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging approaches. It is also working to develop and test novel treatment approaches.

The ARD Lab is headed by Professor Patrick Bolton

What We Study

Autism Spectrum Disorder 

We have been studying twins to investigate the role of genetic and non genetic factors and we also collaborate with molecular genetic labs (Sanger Centre & DeCode Genetics) to identify genetic and epigenetic changes linked to ASD. We work with the British Study of Autism Consortium (http://www.basisnetwork.org/) to chart the early manifestations of ASD. Brain imaging studies (MRI and EEG/ERP) are also used to map the brain structural and functional changes associated with ASD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

We have been studying twins to determine the basis for association between ASD and ADHD, as well as brain imaging techniques to identify the brain basis for the co-occurrence of ASD + ADHD. We also collaborate with The Studying Autism and ADHD Risks (STAARS) study to chart the emergence of ADHD symptoms in infancy.

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC)

TSC is a genetic disorder that is a well-established cause of both ASD and ADHD. TSC is a unique “model” system that has special features that enable us to test neuropsychological theories of the nature of the brain disruption leading to ASD + ADHD. We have been studying a UK cohort of individuals with TSC (The TS 2000 cohort) to map the risk pathways that lead to ASD + ADHD.

Novel Treatments

We are working with colleagues at Birkbeck College, London and Southampton University to conduct a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of a novel attention control training intervention in infants at risk of ADHD (see http://www.staars.org/). Gaze contingent computerised animations are used to help develop attention control in babies with a relative (parent or sibling) with ADHD. The study aims to see if the intervention can prevent the development of ADHD later in childhood.

Funding

Our research is supported by the Medical Research Council, The National Institute of Health Research, The South London & Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre in Mental Health, Action Medical Research, Autism Speaks, The Baily Thomas Charitable Trust and MQ.

Please visit our Current Projects page for further information on our studies.

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