University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
PH.D Child Psychology / Neuroscience
Columbia University in the City of New York
Bachelor Psychology / Biology
University of Minnesota
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Columbia University
获奖 & 荣誉
Differential extrinsic brain network connectivity and social cognitive task-specific demands in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Tseng A, Camchong J, Francis SM, Mueller BA, Lim KO, Conelea CA, Jacob SJournal of Psychiatric Research
Few studies have used task-based functional connectivity (FC) magnetic resonance imaging to examine emotion-processing during the critical neurodevelopmental period of adolescence in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Moreover, task designs with pervasive confounds (e.g., lack of appropriate controls) persist because they activate neural circuits of interest reliably. As an alternative approach to "subtracting" activity from putative control conditions, we propose examining FC across an entire task run. By pivoting our analysis and interpretation of existing paradigms, we may better understand neural response to non-focal instances of socially-relevant stimuli that approximate real-world experiences more closely. Hence, using two well-established affective tasks (face-viewing, face-matching) with diverging social-cognitive demands, we investigated extrinsic FC from amygdala (AMG) and fusiform gyrus (FG) seeds in typically-developing (TD; N = 17) and ASD (N = 17) male adolescents (10-18 yo) and clinical correlations (Social Communication Questionnaire; SCQ) of group FC differences. Participant data (4TD, 6ASD) with excessive head-motion were excluded from final analysis. Direct between-group comparisons revealed significant differences between groups for neural response but not task performance (accuracy, reaction time). During face-viewing, we found greater FC from AMG and FG seeds for ASD participants (ASD > TD) in regions involved in the Default Mode and Fronto-Parietal Task Control Networks. During face-matching, we found greater FC from AMG and FG seeds for TD participants (TD > ASD), in regions associated with the Salience, Dorsal Attention, and Somatosensory Networks. SCQ scores correlated positively with regions with group differences on the face-viewing task and negatively with regions identified for the face-matching task. Task-dependent group differences in FC despite comparable behavioral performance suggest that high-functioning ASD may wield compensatory strategies; clinically-correlated FC patterns may associate with differential task-demands, ecological validity, and context-dependent processing. Employing this novel approach may further the development of targeted therapeutic interventions informed by individual differences in the highly heterogeneous ASD population.
Keywords: Amygdala; Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Emotional faces; Fusiform gyrus; Task-related functional connectivity.
Brief Report: Above and Beyond Safety: Psychosocial and Biobehavioral Impact of Autism-Assistance Dogs on Autistic Children and their Families
Tseng AJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Autism-Assistance Dogs (AADs) are highly-skilled service animals trained primarily to ensure the safety of an autistic child by preventing elopement and mitigating 'meltdowns'. Although anecdotal accounts and case-studies have indicated that AADs confer benefits above and beyond safety, empirical support anchored in validated clinical, behavioral, and physiological measures is lacking. To address this gap, we studied children and their families before and after receiving a well-trained AAD using a within-subject, repeated-measures design. Notably, this study is the first to assess change in a biomarker for chronic stress in both autistic children and their parents. Final analyses included pre-/post-AAD data from 11 triads (parent/handler-dog-child) demonstrating significantly positive psychosocial and biobehavioral effects of AADs.
Keywords: Autism-assistance dogs; Canine assistance; Chronic cortisol concentration; Parent/child stress; Psychosocial effects; Service dogs.
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