Joshua and Louisa attended a recent workshop held at Cambridge University looking at computational approaches to investigating human and animal behaviour. Louisa presented her first scientific poster investigating social contagion (i.e. how learning about other people influences our own values and beliefs) in Autistic individuals and neurotypicals. Our preliminary results suggest there is no difference between groups, challenging previous ideas regarding theory of mind and social understanding in ASD. For more details click here.
Dr Eilidh Cage is looking for autistic people who have been to university to complete her online survey about their experiences. She is interested in hearing from autistic people who completed their studies and those who had to leave university before finishing their degree. You can find out more about this research and take part by visiting this link: https://rhulpsychology.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2nuIkzd3aeJcSJT The survey will close on the 1st August 2018, so don’t miss out!
Study Groups form a key component of Discover, Autistica’s autism research network. These groups are designed to bring dedicated researchers and the community together to work on pressing unanswered questions. We’re delighted that Josh has been invited to sit on the Complex Needs Study Group where he will contribute to developing Discover’s research agenda over the next three years.
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Many consider the meta-analysis to be the gold standard in research, given that it involves pooling together data from multiple independent studies to see if an effect replicates. A recent meta-analysis by researchers from the Centre for Autism Reseach in Pennsylvania (USA) used the results of 13 independent brain imaging studies (including work by Dr Balsters) to evaluate the Social Motivation Hypothesis of Autism. Whilst the Social Motivation Hypothesis of Autism suggests that autistic individuals do not find social stimuli rewarding or attention-grabbing, the results of the meta-analysis found that autistic individuals process both social and non-social rewards differently. It’s believed this might underlie increased motivation for restricted interests.
You can learn more about RHAR research on reward processing here or contact Dr Balsters
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Rebecca attended the Vision Sciences Society annual meeting in St Pete’s Beach, Florida. She presented her recent work on how alexithymia and understanding of our own non-emotional internal states (such as nausea, breathlessness, satiety and fatigue) may influence our ability to recognise these non-emotional internal states in others. This was also a great opportunity to hear about new research from other labs on a range of topics, including perception of faces, bodies, emotion, and motion in ASD.
Rebecca was invited to present work on the role of alexithymia in emotional understanding in autism at a conference in Moscow in April. She spoke about the huge variation in emotional understanding strengths and weaknesses among autistic individuals, and how emotional abilities may relate to alexithymia severity, rather than autism itself. Presenters and attendees included researchers, clinicians, autistic adults, and parents of autistic children, leading to really interesting discussions about recent research findings. It was great to hear a range of perspectives on the way alexithymia may affect different emotional skills. It was also a great opportunity to do some exploring!
Rebecca enjoyed attending an event in February at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London, on doing participatory autism research. Participatory autism research means involving autistic people at all stages of the research process (not just as participants). We are always keen to include autistic people, or parents of autistic children, in the design and interpretation of our work. If you would like to join focus groups for our upcoming and ongoing studies, please contact us to let us know. There are opportunities to help with creating new ideas for research studies, refining our existing ideas, and interpreting results. You can also sign up to review our and other researchers’ research ideas through Eilidh’s Autism Research Allies website here: http://auraresearch.wixsite.com/home
Josh, Louisa, and Rebecca completed ADOS training on 12th and 13th February 2018, which enables them to carry out Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule interviews. These interviews help with our research, and can be conducted with new participants joining our research database. If you’re interested in participating please click here