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University asks for public's help for new autism study – University of Reading

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University asks for public's help for new autism study

Release Date 13 June 2012

The University of Reading has been awarded £600k to study the brain mechanisms which cause the impaired social and communicative behaviour in autism.

Dr Bhismadev Chakrabarti, from the University of Reading's Department of Psychology, will use the University's state-of-the-art scanning equipment to investigate how we understand and empathise with others.

Latest estimates suggest Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) affect nearly 1% of the UK's population. Those affected can suffer reduced social and communication skills, such as showing little interest in issues and activities that are popular with others and being unable to adapt the tone and content of their speech to different social situations.

Dr Chakrabarti said: "There is currently no cure for ASC which affect a huge number of people and seriously impact on people's lives.. This research programme will investigate the brain basis of social behaviour in adults with and without ASC. Once we understand these brain processes we can begin to target them for evaluating existing therapies or developing new ones."

Dr Chakrabarti and his team require the public's help for this important research and want to invite adults with a clinical diagnosis of ASC to take part in the study. Participants will be asked to take part in a range of simple laboratory based tasks, such as looking at faces on a computer. The studies will use a number of techniques for measuring behaviour and brain activity, including functional MRI, and will continue for two years in the first instance.

All the studies will be carried out at the University's Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN) within the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences.

"As a first project to study autism neuroscience at Reading, community participation is essential for its success," continued Dr Chakrabarti . "All interested adults who have a clinical diagnosis of ASC are invited to register at"

The research is funded by the Medical Research Council.


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Notes for editors:

The University is one of the UK's top research-intensive universities and is ranked in the top 20 UK higher education institutions in securing grants worth over £10 million from UK research councils.

Research at Dr. Chakrabarti's lab focuses on empathy, emotions, and autism. You can read more about it at

The Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN) at the University of Reading builds upon existing interdisciplinary research into the physiological and psychological mechanisms underpinning complex cognitive behaviours, targeting typical and atypical development and decline in individuals. CINN research involves scientists in Psychology, Pharmacy, Biosciences and Genetics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Cybernetics and Clinical Language Sciences.

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