Dr. Robert Joseph
In my recent research, I have used multi-model methods, including computerized behavioral tests, eye tracking, psychophysiological measures, and functional magnetic neuroimaging, to examine atypicalities in visual attention and perception in children and young adults with autism. One goal of my research has been to identify neurofunctional and structural brain abnormalities that would seem to map directly onto the core social-communicative behavioral deficits that currently define autism as a diagnostic entity. This work has focused on face and gaze perception in autism. Another focus of my research has been differences in visual attention and perception that are often expressed in the form of superior performance in, for example, tests of nonverbal IQ and visual search in autism.
The goal of this research has been to gain a better understanding of how the brain develops and is organized differently in autism. More recently, I have joined, as lead psychologist, a large multi-site study investigating early biological predictors of neurocognitive and neurobehavioral outcomes in children born at extremely low gestational age. The aim of this study is to determine if neonatal markers of brain inflammation predict a higher prevalence of learning difficulties and behavioral disorders, including autism, in children who are born at very low gestational ages. Finally, I continue to collaborate with colleagues in genetics to examine the associations of rare and relatively common genetic variants to differences in how autism is expressed both in terms of its core and associated features.