Imaging early brain development in autism

  • Autism Research
Speaker David Amaral, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010 United States

Autism Research

Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism. The lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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On 26 February, David Amaral presented evidence supporting the concept that there are different types of altered brain development among children with autism.

His talk is part of SFARI’s Autism: Emerging Concepts lecture series. You can watch a complete video recording of the event above.

About the Lecture

Autism clearly involves altered function of the central nervous system, but the neuropathology of the disorder remains controversial. This is due in part to the enormous complexity of the disorder, with many possible causes and biological trajectories. What’s more, few neuroimaging studies involve young children or severely affected individuals. This lack of information is compounded by the fact that findings from magnetic resonance imaging cannot be confirmed and extended to the cellular level because of a lack of postmortem brains.

About the Speaker

David Amaral joined the University of California, Davis, in 1995 as a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the Center for Neuroscience. He is a staff scientist in the Brain, Mind and Behavior Unit at the California National Primate Research Center. Amaral was named the Beneto Foundation Chair and research director of the MIND Institute in 1998. He received a joint Ph.D. in psychology and neurobiology from the University of Rochester.

Amaral’s research focuses on the neurobiology of social behavior and the development and neuroanatomical organization and plasticity of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampus. Increasingly, his research has been dedicated to understanding the biological basis of autism. As research director of the MIND Institute, Amaral coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism, called the Autism Phenome Project, which aims to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism.

Most recently, Amaral became director of Autism BrainNet, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative and Autism Speaks. The new project aims to solicit postmortem brain tissue to facilitate autism research.

Past Lectures

Altered somatosensory processing in autism spectrum disorders: Mechanisms and emerging therapeutic opportunities

David Ginty, Ph.D.Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard University

On April 24, 2019, David Ginty presented his work on the neurobiological basis of touch over-reactivity in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He also discussed new pharmacological approaches aimed at reducing sensory over-reactivity and potentially improving cognitive and behavioral abnormalities associated with ASD.

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