AUCD Network Press Releases



Walking Gives the Brain a 'Step-up' in Function for Some

It has long been thought that when walking is combined with a task - both suffer. Researchers at AUCD's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester found that this is not always the case. Some young and healthy people improve performance on cognitive tasks while walking by changing the use of neural resources. However, this does not necessarily mean you should work on a big assignment while walking off that cake from the night before.



Visual System Brain Development Implicated in Infants who Develop Autism

Researchers at AUCD's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, analyzed magnetic resonance images collected during infancy from younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They found that brain changes in the size, white matter integrity and functional connectivity of the visual processing systems of six-month olds are evident well before they show symptoms of autism as toddlers, and related to the severity of autism traits in their older ASD siblings, as reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.



Scientists Find Oleic Acid is Key to Activating the Brain's 'fountain of youth'

Cognitive difficulties and learning disabilities are common in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities. While searching for new ways to prevent or treat these and other related conditions, a team at Baylor College of Medicine and the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital identified a missing piece of the puzzle of how specific types of learning and memory are sustained and regulated in the brain.

Black and white image of the amygdala in the color red.


Scientists Identify Overgrowth of Key Brain Structure in Babies Who Later Develop Autism

Research led by Mark Shen, PhD, Heather Hazlett, PhD, and Joseph Piven, MD, from UNC-Chapel Hill is the first to demonstrate overgrowth of the amygdala in the first year of life, before babies show most of the behavioral symptoms that later consolidate into a diagnosis of autism. This overgrowth may be unique to autism, as babies with fragile X syndrome show a different brain growth pattern.



Can Early Behavioral Therapy Interventions Improve Developmental Trajectories in Down Syndrome

While children with Down syndrome have broad developmental delays and quite often have difficulty with challenging behaviors, there are no standardized behavioral strategies or therapies to treat them. Without a well-researched therapeutic standard, there is great variability in the quality of the services offered and a lack of evidence that can be drawn on by advocates for improved health care services. Dr. Nicole Baumer is currently pioneering the JASPER Clinical Trial research program in Down syndrome. The main objective is to determine whether an intensive, targeted early behavioral therapy intervention can improve developmental trajectories in Down syndrome.



CHOP Researchers Show Early Developmental Delays Predict Poor Long-term Outcomes in Leigh Syndrome Patients

Researchers from the Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have found that developmental delays associated with Leigh syndrome, the most common pediatric mitochondrial disorder, may occur earlier than previously recognized - even before metabolic stroke and regression - which could provide clinicians with an opportunity for earlier diagnosis and therapeutic interventions. The findings were recently published online by the journal Molecular Genetics and Metabolism.

Photo of past Pro Fellows with a green border. A red banner on the top has white text that reads,


University of Massachusetts Boston Institute Launches International Fellowship Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement

The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion (HI), has been awarded a grant from the US Department of State to develop and implement the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement, a new professional program for emerging leaders in Africa to exchange and implement best practices for inclusive civic engagement.



Transition to Competitive Integrated Employment Act

"No one should be paid less than minimum wage simply because they have a disability," said Martin Blair, Executive Director of the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana. Blair was referring to the bi-partisan, Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCEIA) introduced last week in the U.S. Senate by Montana's Senator Steve Daines and Pennsylvania's Senator Bob Casey. Daines and Casey are leading a national effort to end employment discrimination against people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The bill will support employers transitioning to paying competitive, fair wages to people with disabilities.


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