NEWS | October 4, 2011

MIND Institute 2011-2012 Distinguished Lecturer Series begins Oct. 12

UCLA expert discusses implications of early interventions for autism in kick-off address


The UC Davis MIND Institute begins the 10th year of its Distinguished Lecturer Series on Oct. 12. Series presenters include nationally and internationally recognized researchers in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders specializing in autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), brain cell plasticity and developmental delay.

Connie Kasari, professor of psychological studies in education and psychiatry at UCLA, will give the Oct. 12 presentation from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the MIND Institute auditorium at 2825 50th St., Sacramento. She will discuss "Engaging Autism: Developmental Implications for Early Interventions."

Kasari is the principal investigator for several multi-site research programs, including the Characterizing Cognition in Nonverbal Individuals with Autism Intervention Network, an Autism Speaks-funded project that focuses on targeted interventions for autism. Her research emphasizes important core developmental abilities, particularly the short-term changes that are generated by early interventions and that create a platform for later developmental growth. In her talk, Kasari will illustrate these changes through her research with toddlers and preschool and school-aged children, with a focus on underserved, under-resourced children with autism and their families.

On Nov. 9, Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a renowned neuroscientist who pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties and made important contributions to the neurobiology of ADHD, discusses "ADHD: Attention and Motivation Deficit Disorder."

Carla J. Shatz, director of Bio-X, Stanford University's pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences program, gives a talk titled "Releasing the Brake on Synaptic Plasticity: Immune Genes Moonlighting in Neurons" on Dec. 14. The Sapp Family Provostial Professor and professor of biology and neurobiology at Stanford, Shatz will discuss how early developing brain circuits are transformed into adult connections during critical periods of development.

Other Distinguished Lecturer Series speakers include Evan Eichler of the University of Washington, who will speak on "Developmental Delay and Human Copy Number Variation" on Jan. 11, and Ricardo Dolmetsch of Stanford University, who will discuss "Using iPS Cells and Mouse Models to Study Autism" on Feb. 8. The remaining presentations will take place on March 14, April 11, May 16 and June 13.

All Distinguished Lecturer Series presentations are free and open to the public. No reservations are required. The MIND Institute Resource Center, which offers information and resources related to neurodevelopmental disorders and associated 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 parents, 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, Tourette syndrome, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the web at