Background: ASD and related neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. Fragile X Syndrome, Prader Willi Syndrome) are lifelong conditions associated with impaired social and adaptive functioning. People with ASD have difficulties engaging in social situations that can lead to isolation, withdrawal and worsening mental health. Additionally even where cognitive abilities are relatively unimpaired people with ASD many have low levels of adaptive ability and are therefore limited in their ability to achieve independent living. Unfortunately also this can be associated with worsening employment prospects, decreased engagement in society and as a consequence, further deterioration in adaptive functioning.
Technological supports for independent living are increasingly providing novel ways to manage disability and promote health and societal engagement. There is now a rich literature on research into normal and abnormal ageing demonstrating the impact of technology supporting healthcare assessment and delivery. However, the application of technologies to support individuals with ASD and other related neurodevelopmental disorders has yet to make such an impact. Here we are aiming to apply technology to better support the acquisition of health related data in people with ASD and to develop technology based interventions to support the development of both core skills, such as basic social cognition, and adaptive skills such as the ability to function in socially demanding situations.
The focus of this project is on the development of gaming based software that may be utilized both for the acquisition of EEG data to support both clinical and research investigation in neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and intellectual disability. There will be a further focus on the implementation of gaming scenarios for the development of skills addressing both core deficits and adaptive functioning. The emphasis will be on the development of scenarios with broad appeal and application such that they may be implemented in naturalistic environments with friends and family members promoting generalization of skills into real-life scenarios. The fellowship will focus on the development of clinical skills, namely the assessment and measurement of the ASD phenotype and associated endophenotypes. Additionally technical skills in the design and implementation of paradigms for EEG and the processing and analysis of EEG data will be acquired. Finally the applicant will learn how to apply technology and EEG methods in the context of a therapeutic application for ASD. The potential fellow may be from a behavioural sciences or computer sciences background.
An ideal environment exists at Trinity College Dublin to provide the holder of this fellowship with the support to undertake this research opportunity. The Autism and Rare Neurodevelopmental Disorder Research Group is part of the Neuropsychiatric Genetics group within the School of Medicine. It includes a multidisciplinary team with extensive expertise on clinical assessment, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, neuroimaging, molecular genetics, bioinformatics and functional biology of autism and developmental disorders. The Trinity Centre for Bioengineering within the School of Medicine and School of Engineering has extensive experience in EEG neuroimaging methods and analysis for clinical applications. The holder of this fellowship will be able to avail of training with Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Group and the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering to complement their expertise.
Further information can be obtained by contacting
Professor Richard Reilly, Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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