Summary of INSAR 2022

Last week, I had the honor of attending and presenting at INSAR 2022, the annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research, in Austin, Texas1. My area of expertise is not autism, so this conference was a week of learning about autism and the wide variety of amazing research on autism being done in psychology, neuroscience, social sciences, genetics, public policy, and health, just to name a few. I submitted an abstract as part of a panel on the neurodevelopment of language in children with and without autism, and our panel was accepted to present! The work that I presented is the result of a project that I have been working on with Dr. Meghan Swanson, an autism and language researcher at UT Dallas, as well as my adviser Dr. Abdi, who has been my guide on the analysis for the project.

Opening Press Conference

The conference kicked off with the opening press conference, and we were honored to have our abstract selected as one of seven featured abstracts from the thousands of submissions. Dr. Swanson gave a short overview of our study and took questions from the press alongside the other researchers. The press conference was livestreamed to the public, and the recording is available on Facebook. You can also read the Twitter thread that I wrote to summarize our findings. In short, we used partial least squares correlation to look at how regional brain surface area and thickness at 6 and 12 months of age is related to language abilities later on at 24 months, and we looked at how these relationships differ between infants with and without autism.

Panel on Neurodevelopment of Language in Children with Autism

After the press conference, my week was mainly getting to learn from other researchers. There were four incredible keynote speakers, a large number of panels and oral presentations, and many posters to explore. And while our research got to open the conference, we also got to close it out as our panel was one of the very last events. I presented alongside Dr. Lisa Yankowitz, Dr. Tyler McFayden, and Libby Forsen on a range of work that focused on relationships between brain structure and aspects of language development in infants who either went on to be diagnosed with autism or did not. All of us used data that come from a large multi-site study called the Infant Brain Imaging Study, or IBIS, which collects data on infants who have an older sibling with autism, and then follows them to see which infants go on to be diagnosed with autism themselves.

While the work I presented is not yet published, you can get an idea of the topics that I discussed from the press conference above, and from these two articles that covered our presentation in the panel:

Overall, I got so much out of the conference by sharing my work, but mostly from listening and learning from others. I am looking forward to publishing our results in the near future, and possibly following up at INSAR 2023!

  1. One of my favorite things in Austin are the Congress Ave Bridge bats, featured in the photo at the top.