Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

What is ASD?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction, language, and stereotyped or repetitive behaviors. Autism is truly a “spectrum” of disorders. A key theme in our understanding of ASD centers on the tremendous heterogeneity, or variability, in the clinical presentation. This heterogeneity likely reflects the fact that many different neurobiological and developmental abnormalities can lead to ASD. No single brain region or genetic mutation is consistently implicated in the disorder. Rather, a variety of genetic and biological factors contribute to the development of ASD. While there is no cure for ASD, current behavioral and medical treatments can be very effective in managing symptoms and improving daily function in children with ASD.

What is Jeste Lab studying in regards to ASD?

Our research team has been studying early biomarkers of autism by tracking social, cognitive, and brain development of infants, toddlers, and adolescents who are at risk or diagnosed with ASD. Our research focuses on the design and application of novel, electrophysiological methods to better characterize behavioral and cognitive domains to help us to identify patterns that best predict autism and developmental delay.

The identification of biologically based phenotypes within the heterogeneous spectrum of ASD disorders, as only through the elucidation of mechanisms of atypical development can we design and implement targeted, personalized interventions for these children. As we continue to collect data, we hope to gain a clearer picture of developmental profiles that later lead to an ASD diagnosis, with the goal of intervening and providing services for families sooner.

How do I participate in Jeste Lab research?

None of this work would be possible without the generous involvement of the families who participate in our study. It is a continuing and ongoing endeavor to detect reliable markers of ASD. Although we have already learned much from our research, there is still so much yet to know about social cognitive development and risk factors that lead to an ASD diagnosis. We are currently recruiting infants, toddlers, and adolescents with and without a history of ASD to participant in our studies. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in our research, please contact our research coordinator Elizabeth Baker at


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