Human Origins: Lessons from Autism Spectrum Disorders

Event Dates: 
Oct 5, 2012 -
1:00pm to 5:30pm

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is very commonly diagnosed these days, possibly due to increased awareness.  Or are these signs that the human brain is developing in new and different ways that have yet to be understood? What have advances in our understanding of the etiologies of ASD taught us about its mechanisms, and can they shed light on the evolution of the human brain?  The CARTA public symposium on “Human Origins: Lessons from Autism Spectrum Disorders” featured scientists from many diverse fields, including genetics, neuroscience, psychiatry, cognitive science, psychology, and evolutionary biology, who shared their insights into ASD--providing a multi-disciplinary perspective on this multi-faceted spectrum of disorders, and its implications for understanding human origins and the evolution of the human mind. 

Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Date Media Session Title Speakers Abstract Location
Fri 10/5 File Welcome Pascal Gagneux Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Genetic Etiology Jonathan Sebat

The Autism Spectrum is a diverse group of neurodevelopmental disorders that share a common set of characteristics, which includes restricted interests, repetitive behaviors and difficulties with... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Surprising Findings in Autism: Insights into Anthropogeny? Eric Courchesne

Although the neurobiology of autism has been studied for more than two decades, the majority of studies have examined brain anatomy 10 or more years after the onset of clinical symptoms. The early... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File The "Like-Me" Theory for Connecting Self and Others Andrew Meltzoff

 This talk describes new research on the origins of ‘social cognition’—the mechanisms by which infants come to understand other people and interpret their actions and intentions before language.... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File The Early Identification of Autism: Examinations of Brain and Behavior Karen Pierce

Autism is a developmental disorder impacting one out of every 100 children born today. It is a disorder that affects how the brain grows and works, yet the functional brain characteristics of... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Mirroring in the Neurotypical and Autistic Brain Mirella Dapretto

First discovered in the macaque, mirror neurons – neurons that fire when executing a goal-directed action as well as when observing the same action being performed by others – are thought to... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Systems Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders Daniel Geschwind

Our laboratory has been working to identify autism risk genes and understand how these might lead to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Many genes with distinct functions have been identified as ASD... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File The Evolutionary Biology of Autism Risk Bernard Crespi

I describe a simple model, based in evolutionary biology, neurodevelopment, and genetics, for understanding how the primary features of autism are related to the major neuroanatomical and... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File The Fetal Androgen Theory Simon Baron-Cohen

Autism affects males much more often than females. The explanation for this must either lie in diagnostic practice (e.g., there may be under-diagnosis of females due to their better surface social... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Mirror Neuron Dysfunction in Neurology V.S. Ramachandran

My interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) stems from an earlier, and broader, interest in mirror neurons and their dysfunction (and restitution of function) in neurology.  We begin with a... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Wrap-Up and Question and Answer Session Daniel Geschwind, Jonathan Sebat Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/5 File Closing Remarks Margaret Schoeninger Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
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