Research Assistant: Early Brain Development in Autism Spectrum DisorderSemester Course

Research Assistant, Early Brain Development and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Major Discipline(s)
Neuroscience, Psychology
Elective Course
Fall/Spring semester

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impairment in social interaction and communication alongside stereotypic, restricted, and repetitive behaviors and interests, causing functional impairment in everyday life. Reliable diagnosis can be given from the age of 2 to 3 years but relies solely on behavioral symptoms with no biomarkers available so far.

Early brain development disruption is proposed to underlie the development of ASD, even before clinical signs are visible. Over the past couple of years, research is starting to point at prodromes, i.e. early symptoms of ASD, being potentially detectable during the first two years of life. For instance, early over-expansion of several cortical regions and especially the visual cortex has been revealed in high-risk children who will develop ASD.

This research project consists in a systematic review and a potential meta-analysis of the existing neuroanatomical findings related to early autism, used ultimately to write an article providing a better understanding of the literature and giving new insights into this recent field of research. More concretely, you learn about neuroimaging techniques, neuroanatomy, and the autism research field. You also learn systematic review techniques, which include article screening, extracting and compiling data, and writing a systematic review using a very specific, scientific format. A meta-analysis complements the systematic review using the extracted data. An interest in neuroimaging, neuroanatomy, or statistics is a plus.

Related Discipline(s)

This course would also be of interest to the following discipline(s):
Biology, Pre-Medicine / Health Science


Elodie Cauvet

DIS Stockholm Semester Faculty

Obtained her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, from Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris (France). Her research interest started with language acquisition in infants leading to the study of the cerebral processing of language and music in adults. She became interested in neurodevelopmental disorders starting with developmental dyslexia then expending into autism spectrum disorders as well as ADHD. She is using techniques from psychology as well as neuroimaging in her research, this includes MRI (anatomical and functional) as well as EEG and eye tracking. She has been conducting her latest research at Karolinska Institutet Center for Neuro-developmental Disorders (KIND). Her interests include social cognitive skills, empathy and emotion processing within the whole spectrum of functioning from typicality till disorders such as ASD. She has been with DIS since 2016.