IDDRC Research Highlights



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The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center's signature research project "Auditory Processing as a Prognostic Biomarker in Diverse IDDs" investigates the utility of infant brain scanning using magnetoencephalography with stimulus paradigms differentially sensitive to language-specific vs. general cognitive impairment in infants with a variety of genetic risk factors for later intellectual disability.

The IDDRC's goal is to predict not only later intellectual disability diagnosis, but also to characterize it in terms of language domain specificity vs. more generalized cognitive impairment. In order to maximize the prognostic value, we adopt a split cohort accelerated design in which longitudinal assessment of brain electrophysiology at 6, 12, and 18 months is used to predict interim functional status at age 3 years, while a second cohort is recruited at age 3 with a similar spectrum of risk factors and followed to age 6 when a more definitive diagnosis can be made.

Unique MEG hardware at CHOP allows sensitive scanning of infants, while conventional MEG in the same magnetically shielded room can provide analogous data from the older children. This work is predicated on the successful program from the last IDDRC funding cycle in which MEG studies were performed in minimally-verbal/non-verbal school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder, as well as age and NVIQ-matched children with a range of genetic etiologies. We benefited from the development of the MEG-PLAN behavioral/technical protocol that enabled scanning in these rarely included populations and allowed data from three stimulus paradigms to be evaluated in terms of associations with measure of language and cognitive function. The current project draws heavily on the technical capabilities of the IDDRC Neuroimaging and Neurocircuitry Core as well as the clinical recruitment capabilities of the IDDRC Clinical and Translational Core. In general, the project also integrates with the Biostatistics and the Genomics cores and thus represents the programmatic vision of the IDDRC as a whole.

Leaders of the Auditory Processing as a Prognostic Biomarker in Diverse IDDs project include Principal Investigator Timothy Roberts, PhD, and co-investigators Chris Edgar, PhD, and Emily Kuschner, PhD.