The term autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) exemplifies the tremendous heterogeneity in this developmental disorder at both the phenotypic and underlying genetic levels. It has been observed that ASD affects more males than females. Although many hypotheses attempt to explain this bias, no clear answers have emerged because of inconsistent and incomplete phenotyping and small sample sizes. Our strong interdisciplinary team will recruit ASD and non-affected participants, as well as study sex- specific differences by deep phenotyping and genotyping of ASD participants.
Our goals include:
1. Identifying differences in brain structure, function, connectivity, and temporal dynamics in girls and boys with ASD.
2. Characterize associations between DNA sequence and copy number variants and brain structure function in Female ASD and TD versus Male ASD and TD.
3. Relate brain differences in structure, function, and temporal dynamics to heterogeneity in ASD behavior and genetics.
We hypothesize that advances network methods can aid in understanding the tremendous heterogeneity in ASD by connecting different levels of phenotype with genetic variation. We will use a truly interdisciplinary approach with multiple levels of biology and endophenotypes -- SNV's, CNV's, behavioral metrics, and resting state imaging and electrophysiology measures -- into one framework across affected and unaffected siblings and controls using an integrated network analysis, iWGCNA.