NEWS | November 30, 2012

Development of language and communication in autism the topic of next MIND Institute Lecture


Boston University Professor and President of the International Society for Autism Research Helen Tager-Flusberg will give a presentation titled "On the Origins and Development of Language and Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorder" for the next UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation.

UC Davis MIND Institute  UC Davis MIND Institute

The lecture will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the MIND Institute auditorium at 2825 50th St., Sacramento. It is free and open to the public and no reservations are required.

In early September, the National Institutes of Health announced an award of $10 million to establish an Autism Center of Excellence at Boston University, with Tager-Flusberg as director. The five-year grant will fund research devoted to some of the least-probed aspects of autism, including developmental language disorders. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder have an inability to acquire spoken language and thus are very difficult to engage in standard testing. Research at the new center will focus on developing novel methods for assessing this group and on identifying reasons why so many children with autism fail to acquire spoken language.

Tager-Flusberg has studied language acquisition and autism for three decades.She is the director and principal investigator for Boston University's Research on Autism & Developmental Disorders, or ROADD (previously the Lab of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience), which conducts behavioral and brain-imaging research on infants, children and adults with such neurodevelopmental disorders as autism. She also is director of the university's Developmental Science Program and professor in the Department of Psychology as well as the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

Tager-Flusberg received her bachelor of science in psychology from University College, London, and her doctorate from Harvard University. From 1978 to 2001, she was a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. From 1996 to 2001 she also held the position of senior scientist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical Center. She has edited four books, serves on the editorial board of several professional journals, and is associate editor of the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the British Journal of Psychology.

Other Distinguished Lecturer Series speakers will include:

• Jan. 9: Wendy Stone, director of the University of Washington Autism Center in Seattle, discussing "From Early Detection to Early Intervention: Bridging the Gap in Autism Services"

• Feb. 13: Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, giving a talk titled "Longitudinal Studies of Autism Spectrum Disorder"

• March 13: Paul Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, discussing "Gut-Brain-Immune Connections: Modeling an Environmental Risk Factor for Autism"

Additional series presentations will take place on April 10, May 8 and June 12.

All Distinguished Lecturer Series presentations are free and open to the public, with no reservations required. The MIND Institute Resource Center, specializing in information and resources relating to neurodevelopmental disorders and related conditions, is open one hour before and 30 minutes after each presentation.

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at