The Project on Affinities and Language (PAL) is designed to help us understand what happens in a child’s brain when they engage with their interests, passions, or hobbies – also known as “affinities.” These deep passions are common in all children, and they are especially prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The PAL study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to view the brains of children aged 7-12 -- both with and without autism -- while they watch videos and listen to stories of their unique affinity. Each neuroimaging session is personalized to the child to ensure that we are truly capturing the neural response to deep interests. In particular, we are examining the brain response to language about one's affinity in a novel paradigm.
The results of this study will inform educational and therapeutic paradigms for young children, especially those with autism.