Bridging behavior and genetics through sensory-motor electrophysiology

Short Title

Rutgers University

Project Description

Proposed familial characterization of sensory motor signatures in idiopathic ASD and ASD of known genetic origins, specifically ASD associated with full- or pre-mutation states of the FMR1 gene.

This project aims to bridge the gap between behavior and genetics in individuals, and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Using objective metrics that encapsulate physiological processes ranging from sensory-motor control, to temperature regulation and electrodermal activity, we will begin to profile and truly understand the underlying characteristics associated with a diagnosis of ASD. This characterization will be further viewed in light of sensory-motor and physiological profiling of individuals with Fragile X disorders (FXDs).

Growing research has demonstrated the presence of predictable sensory-motor variation in individuals with ASD. In particular, our lab has begun to highlight the role of sensory-motor control in a diagnosis of ASD, with characteristics clearly differentiating between individuals with ASD and neuro-typical controls (1-3). The presence of such sensory-motor difficulties provides new avenues of research, from demonstrating how these core issues may give rise to problems such as socialization, to aiding in the development of targeted, personalized therapeutic interventions. One important question is how sensory-motor and physiological control, which can be objectively measured and quantified, may help further our understanding of the underlying etiology of ASD.

Selection Criteria

  • individuals with autism and their immediate family members
  • individuals with autism related to the Fragile-X mental retardation
    gene FMR1, both individuals with a diagnosis
    of autism with the full mutation (Fragile-X syndrome, FXS) and those
    who are carriers
  • neurotypical individuals and their family members

What's Involved

One session: genetic history, behavioral assessments, genetic test (cheek swab) and short movement games, wearing sensors (like a fit bit)


$25.00 and a full report of genetic test results
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Team Members

Elizabeth Torres
Principal Investigator

Caroline Whyatt
(848) 445-8909

Contact Info
(848) 445-8909
152 Frelinghuysen Rd
Piscataway, NJ 08854