What research is being done?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is one of the federal government’s leading supporters of biomedical research on brain and nervous system disorders. The NINDS conducts research in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland , and also awards grants to support research at universities and other facilities.
As part of the Children’s Health Act of 2000, the NINDS and three sister institutes have formed the NIH Autism Coordinating Committee to expand, intensify, and coordinate NIH’s autism research. Eight dedicated research centers across the country have been established as “Centers of Excellence in Autism Research” to bring together researchers and the resources they need. The Centers are conducting basic and clinical research, including investigations into causes, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, and treatment, such as the studies highlighted below:
investigators are using animal models to study how the neurotransmitter serotonin establishes connections between neurons in hopes of discovering why these connections are impaired in autism
researchers are testing a computer-assisted program that would help autistic children interpret facial expressions
a brain imaging study is investigating areas of the brain that are active during obsessive/repetitive behaviors in adults and very young children with autism
other imaging studies are searching for brain abnormalities that could cause impaired social communication in children with autism
clinical studies are testing the effectiveness of a program that combines parent training and medication to reduce the disruptive behavior of children with autism and other ASDs