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Ashley Scott


Department of IDP Neuroscience

Los Angeles, California 90095
United States

Ashley Scott's Website
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autism, development, MRI, learning, memory, reward

My research interests focus on how possible deficits in striatal function could contribute to several of the core features of autism. Known sequelae of striatal abnormalities include: motor abnormalities such as repetitive and stereotypic behaviors; impaired habit/implicit learning; and abnormal responses to reward. Repetitive behaviors, including restricted interests, are a primary feature of autism and individuals with autism often demonstrate complex motor stereotypies such as hand flapping, odd eye gaze, and twirling. Among learned implicit behaviors are those relevant to language including syntax and nonverbal communication, both of which are impaired in autism. Finally, while children with autism are able to show attachments they do not respond to social rewards as do typically developing kids and show less interest or motivation to seek socially rewarding stimuli such as smiling faces. It has been suggested that children with autism demonstrate an early lack of bias to orient to their caregiver’s face and that this may be a result of the child not finding that face particularly “rewarding” to view. Furthermore, recent genetic studies have identified a candidate gene that is specifically expressed in the basal ganglia and implicated in autism and associated with language difficulties. I would like to combine both functional and structural MRI techniques to gain a complete understanding of this structure and frontal-striatal circuitry in autism, with the hypothesis that disrupted macro- or micro-structure contributes to inefficient function of these nuclei and this may have an underlying genetic etiology.

I sincerely apologize that we have a long-standing and unresolved problem that users are unable to modify the database contents using their logins and passwords. I hope that we can fix this problem soon. In the meantime, I will try to do this manually as best I can.

-- Mark Cohen

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