Researchers at Monash University are engaged in a range of projects directly addressing the causes and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Indicative project that could be conducted collaboratively with Abacus Learning Centre are listed below:
1. Biomarker Discovery: MICCN researchers are world leading experts in gene discovery for mental health conditions. Autism is highly genetic and researchers at MICCN are interested in applying DNA sequencing technology to identify novel risk genes for ASD. To succeed in gene discovery of complex disorders like autism, large collaborative samples of well defined participants are required and community partnership is key.
2. Brain Imaging to Identify Diagnostic Markers: MICCN is home to some of the world’s leading experts in applying brain imaging technologies to understand the wiring of the brain in both health and disorder. Brain imaging of individuals with ASD offers the hope of finding neurological markers that may aid diagnosis.
3. Brain Stimulation as a novel treatment strategy: Increasingly brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are been used to stimulate the brain and promote neural plasticity. Early work suggests such techniques may have promise in ASD.
4. Cognitive training: MICCN has developed a range of cognitive training protocol for paediatric populations including ASD. The premise of cognitive training is that by repeatedly practising a cognitive process (such as memory), one can promote brain plasticity.