Date: Friday, February 17, 2017
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Speaker: Oliver Wilder-Smith, Ph.D. Candidate
Affiliation: Northeastern University; Simons Center Postdoctoral Fellow (Fall 2017)
Talk Title: Quantitative Analysis of Socio-Affective Dynamics in Autism Using Interpersonal Physiology
Abstract: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have great difficulty interpreting and using nonverbal communication, understanding and navigating social relationships, and making sense of their own and others’ emotions. Many of these impairments can be understood in terms of deficits in social reciprocity, the ability to attend to, predict, and respond appropriately to the mental states of others, and are present in both more severely affected as well as “higher-functioning” individuals with ASD who have little or no cognitive impairment. A key challenge to studying the development of social reciprocity in ASD is that social interactions are fundamentally transactional, taking place within a system rather than in isolation, and that people affect and are affected by their interactions with others. As such, it is important to consider the child, their caretaker, and their dyadic interaction as three separate but complimentary lines of inquiry when exploring social cognition and social reciprocity in the developing brain. A growing body of work in interpersonal physiology – the study of psychophysiological signals across two or more people – may offer a powerful new means for non-invasive ambulatory assessment of socio-affective processes in children with ASD. I will present techniques and preliminary data from our on-going Simon’s funded enTRAIN study, in which we are applying interpersonal physiological analysis to study social reciprocity and socio-affective dynamics between young children with and without an autism diagnosis and their parent.