Biological Markers of Autism at a Young Age
In this video, Kim Davies talks about her career and current position as the science coordinator for BASIS (British Autism Study of Infant Siblings). Their current aim is to look for early biological markers of autism through the use of various behavioral observations and neuropsychological studies conducted at the Birkbeck Babylab (University of Birkbeck, London).
Recent research suggests that autism, for the most part, has a genetic basis and that younger siblings of an autistic child have around a 20 percent chance of being diagnosed with autism themselves. Therefore, Kim and her team study infant siblings of autistic individuals who have yet to receive a diagnosis of autism and look at their behavioral characteristics in relation to a sample of infants drawn from the general population to see whether there are notable differences. Their aim is to develop a more accurate diagnosis system that can be administered earlier, giving parents more time to adapt towards caring for an autistic child. What Kim gets across nicely in this video is the experience of taking part in developmental psychology experimentation.
Most people are somewhat wary of submitting their child to take part in strange neuroscience experiments, many no doubt have heard of the unethical and abhorrent experiments at the hands of behaviorism in the 1920’s (most notable being the case of little Albert) and assume that not much has changed since. This however could not be further from the truth. Kim’s team and the Birkbeck Babylab in general have cleverly designed their experiments to be as fun and engaging for the infants as possible while still being highly-scientifically valuable. Many of the parents who bring their children give great reviews of the experience and find it’s an interesting change from their normal play groups and are often sad to leave once a study has ended. More information about the Babylab, some of the specific findings and contact details if you would like to know more about getting involved, can be found linked to in the video’s description.
Richard Clarke runs the psychology laboratory and works as a lecturer at Regents University London. He received his Master’s degree in Psychological Research Methods from Exeter University where his research focused on the effects of the hormone Oxytocin on the own-race-bias in human face perception. His current research interest is in the underlying neurological basis of face recognition and its relationship to empathy.
In addition to his role at Regents, Richard also runs an organization dedicated to the promotion and communication of psychological theory and research to the general public called The London Psychology Collective. The group is active in creating filmed interviews with figures in the field of psychology, which can be viewed for free on YouTube, and the progress of which can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
If you are interested in his work with this group and would like to learn more you can E-mail Richard on email@example.com