By Andries W. Coetzee
Jan 27, 2013
Professor Jon Brennan received one of the first so-called MCubed awards. MCubed is a brand new program that is part of the Provost's Third Century Initiative, and that is aimed at keeping the University at the leading edge or research and education as it enters its third century. The program is described as follows on the MCubed website:
"MCubed is a two-year seed-funding program designed to empower interdisciplinary teams of University of Michigan faculty to pursue new initiatives with major societal impact. The program minimizes the time between idea conception and successful research results by providing immediate startup funds for novel, high-risk and transformative research projects. The funds are intended to generate data for groundbreaking, high-impact publications, or preliminary results for new, innovative research proposals. The program also includes high-visibility, campus-wide research symposia to showcase the resulting groundbreaking research."
Each MCubed project includes three faculty members from different units across campus. The three members of Jon Brennan's team includes himself, psychology professor Ioulia Kovelman, and psychiatry professor Renee Lajiness-O'Neill. Jon Brennan's project follows up on research that he started at the Childrens' Hospital of Philadelphia before joining our Department. It investigates the neural mechanisms that support language in children diagnosed with Austism Spectrum Disorder. This research not only promises to enhance our understanding of the neural embedding of human linguistic abilities, but also has the potential to have direct consequences in the clinical intervention and treatment of children with Austism Spectrum Disorder. More on Jon's MCubed project is available here. The title and a short description of the project are given below.
Neural Coherence at Rest and During Language Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is widely recognized as a communication deficit, though the relationship between the ASD phenotype and the neural mechanisms that support language remain ill-understood. Recent work suggests that dynamic neural oscillations between brain regions (signatures of phase-locked brain activity) may differ between typically developing children and those with ASD. We aim to test this hypothesis in the context of auditory language comprehension by studying how the coherency of neural oscillations, as measured with Magnetoencephalography, changes as a function of the level of language processing (phonemes, words, sentences) in children with ASD in comparison with typically developing children.