The TRANSCEND Research Program is designed to contribute to ASD treatment research through a deeper understanding of the biological and neurological bases of the disorder. MRI, MEG and EEG technologies can show differences in brain structure and activity between individuals with ASD and those without ASD.
We aim to understand these differences in structure and brain activity using these technologies. For instance, we can use MRI technology to investigate what causes some individuals with ASD to have significantly larger brains than those without ASD. Understanding the reasons for this enlargement may help contribute to the design of appropriate medical treatments. With respect to brain activity, the MEG can, for example, help us better understand why some individuals with ASD are extremely sensitive to loud noises. Understanding the brain basis for this increased sensitivity may help us tell which children are most likely to benefit from existing interventions, such as sensory integration therapy. It may also help clinicians and researchers develop new treatments or interventions. The first step to the development of any breakthrough intervention and therapies must be a deeper understanding of the differences we observe in the brains of individuals with ASD, and that is our primary focus.
We are also working towards developing a better understanding of how existing treatments and interventions might affect the brain. Autism is a complex disorder, and not all individuals with ASD exhibit the same brain structure and activity. Thus, different treatments may work differently for different individuals. We are currently in the process of designing studies to use MRI and MEG technology to look for changes that occur in the brains of individuals with ASD following various treatments and interventions. This might help us understand why certain methods work best only for certain individuals, and perhaps even predict which treatments are best for each individual.