NEWS | October 25, 2013

Social brain development in autism the topic of November distinguished lecture


James C. McPartland, director of the Developmental Disabilities Clinic at the Child Study Center at Yale University, will discuss “Motivated for Change: Rethinking Models of Social Brain Development in Autism Spectrum Disorder” during the November UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the MIND Institute, 2825 50th St., Sacramento

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One of the core features of autism spectrum disorder is social impairment, which emerges in early childhood. McPartland’s research explores the interplay between social-behavioral vulnerabilities and experiences in early childhood, with the objective of developing biologically based tools to detect and treat developmental disorders in very young children. During the lecture, he will review his research on testing and expanding the “social motivation hypothesis of autism” — the concept that children with autism don't interact socially because they derive less pleasure from social interaction than do typically developing children.

McPartland, an assistant professor of child psychiatry and psychology, is the author of two books and over 45 scholarly works on autism and related topics. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the International Society for Autism Research Young Investigator Award, the Patterson Trust Clinical Research Award and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Klerman Prize.

McPartland serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disability, Encyclopedia of Autism and Related Disorders and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and he reviews manuscripts for more than 20 journals in the fields of clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He also serves on the executive committee of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and is the treasurer of the International Society for Autism Research.

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