Research Highlights

Congratulations Tami Benton, MD!

Congratulations to Tami Benton, MD who is a recipient of the 2020 Leaphart Williams Community Award and the 2020 Society of Biological Psychiatry Humanitarian Award.





A Longitudinal MRI Study of Simplex Autism in Toddlers

Ben Yerys, PhD, has been awarded a grant by the Eagles Autism Foundation to study simplex autism in toddlers. This study entitled, A Longitudinal MRI Study of Simplex Autism in Toddlers, will focus on early development in simplex autism. Four out of five children are considered to have simplex autism because their older siblings do not have autism.  Little is known about early development in simplex autism because it has been hard to identify these children at young ages. To date, prospective longitudinal studies have all been with "high risk" samples in multiplex families where there is an older sibling with autism. This is problematic because the extant literature of children and adults finds biological differences in simplex vs. multiplex cases. This project uses a new screening approach by leveraging CHOP's universal autism screening program to identify toddlers at high risk for simplex autism at 18 months. This approach yields 50% more autism cases than the high-risk infant-sibling method, providing an avenue to study early brain and behavior development in the general autism population. This study will measure brain and behavior development from 18 to 24 months of age in 30 tolddlers who have an autism diagnosis and 30 who are typically developing.  Toddlers will be recruited from CHOP's primary care practices, which will allow our sample to be nationally representative in race and socioeconomic status. This study will be the first step toward understanding how the development of various brain systems contribute to simplex autism.