Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


11th Annual Autism Conference; San Juan, Puerto Rico; 2017

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #5
Evidence for Neural Circuitry Dysfunction in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
San Juan Grand Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, Ph.D.
Chair: Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)
SOPHIA A. COLAMARINO (John and Maria Goldman Foundation; Stanford University School of Medicine)
Sophia Colamarino, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist with over a decade of involvement in the non-profit autism research community. She currently works in private philanthropy where she serves as the Director of the Science and Health Program for the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, which seeks funding opportunities focused on the autism spectrum and autoimmune disease spaces. Dr. Colamarino is also a Consulting Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University Medical School and teaches a course on autism spectrum disorder in the undergraduate Human Biology Program. Prior to joining the Goldman Foundation, Dr. Colamarino served from 2004 - 2011 as the Vice President of Research for Autism Speaks and as the Science Program Director for Cure Autism Now, where she developed several important research initiatives including new efforts in neuropathology, innovative technology, and translational biology. While at Autism Speaks, Dr. Colamarino spearheaded development of a public access policy for publications resulting from the foundation's funded research, the first such policy for a US advocacy organization, for which she testified to Congress and was appointed to the NIH's National Library of Medicine advisory board for the PubMed Central science archive. She also spends much of her time providing public science lectures for the autism community and has served on many autism boards and science committees. Dr. Colamarino graduated with a BS in Biological Sciences and an AB in Psychology from Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the University of California, San Francisco, where she studied brain development with neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Colamarino conducted research on the genetic disorder Kallmann Syndrome at the Telethon Institute for Genetics and Medicine in Milan, Italy, led by human geneticist Andrea Ballabio, MD. She then returned to the US to work at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, studying adult neural stem cells and brain regeneration in the laboratory of stem cell pioneer Fred H. Gage, Ph.D.
Abstract: Despite the striking behaviors that encompass autism, one of the most perplexing things from a neurobiological standpoint is that, at first pass, the brain structurally looks relatively normal. For decades researchers have been trying to pinpoint where autism is located in the brain, usually focusing on individual brain structures. However, no single region has so far been shown to underlie all of autism's symptoms. This lecture will provide a brief review of the emerging and converging evidence that autism is a disorder involving neural connectivity, where changes in the structure/function of brain connectivity may disrupt the ability to process information across different brain regions. Finally, these changes might be more widespread than would be predicted from the discrete domains of behavioral symptomatology.
Target Audience:

Certified behavior analysts, licensed psychologists, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) name the basic structures that form the brain's neural circuitry; (2) describe the concept of the Functional Underconnectivity Theory of autism; (3) describe at least two pieces of research data supporting the idea that individuals with autism have differences in their neural circuitry.



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