2018 Gatlinburg Conference Plenary Speakers
Associate Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatry
Associate Scientist, Advanced Imaging Research Center
Presentation Title: Using Graph Theory to Inform Heterogeneity in Typical and Atypical Development
Thursday, April 12, 2018 ∽ 8:00-9:00 a.m.
Research and clinical investigations in psychiatry largely rely on several assumptions that the diagnostic categories identified in the DSM represent homogeneous syndromes. However, the mechanistic heterogeneity that potentially underlies the existing classification scheme might limit our ability to clarify etiology for several developmental psychiatric illnesses. Another, perhaps less palpable, reality may also be interfering with progress – heterogeneity in typically developing populations. In our current work, we expand on previous brain imaging methods and use graph theory, specifically community detection, to clarifying behavioral and functional heterogeneity in children with ADHD and Autism. Our approach also seeks to determine whether data driven sub-profiles can be discerned in children with and without the disorder. Because individual classification is the sina qua non for eventual clinical translation, we also apply machine learning tools and multivariate pattern analyses to identify how well clinical status in individual children can be identified as defined by the delineated subtypes. The findings have yielded several unique subtypes across all populations. Several important principles are being more refined with our new methodology that we believe has the potential to advance our understanding of typical development and developmental neuropsychiatric disorders. The first tenet suggests that typically developing children can be classified into distinct subgroups with high precision. The second tenet proposes that some of the heterogeneity in individuals with mental health issues might be “nested” in this normal variation.
Chief Research Officer, Director of the Health Services Research Institute
Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Associate Chair of Research
Visiting Professor of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Presentation Title: Eliminating Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health and Healthcare for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their Families
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 ∽ 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Racial/ethnic disparities in children’s health and healthcare are extensive, pervasive, persistent, and occur across the spectrum of health and healthcare. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) can suffer from particularly egregious disparities. For example, among those with Down’s Syndrome, African-Americans die at a substantially younger median age that whites. African-American children receive a diagnosis of autism 1.4 years later than whites, and are in mental-health treatment an average of 13 months longer than whites before receiving their autism diagnosis. In this session, attendees will learn about key racial/ethnic disparities in children with IDDs, programs that have been successful in eliminating disparities, and practical steps to take to achieve equity for children with IDDs.
Vaughan Bascom and Elizabeth M. Boggs Professor, Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Presentation Title: Family Impacts of IDD: Gene X Environment Interactions
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 ∽ 8:30-9:30 a.m.
A large body of research has revealed the influence of the family on the development and functioning of individuals with IDD, and the reciprocal influence of the individual with IDD on family functioning. A major focus has been on family stress and coping. Our family research has extended this focus to include biomarkers as both antecedents to and consequences of parenting stress. A prime example is fragile X syndrome, which is a single gene disorder caused by an expansion of the number of CGG repeats in the FMR1 gene. It is an inherited condition passed from premutation carrier mothers to their children with FXS. We have shown that variation in FMR1 CGG repeats is associated with differential vulnerability to parenting stress -- a gene X environment interaction. We have further shown that these interaction effects are evident not only in parents who have abnormally high numbers of CGG repeats but also in those with unusually low numbers of repeats. This line of research illustrates how investigations that begin with a focus on a rare genetic condition (such as FXS) can ultimately lead to insights about the general population and contributes to our understanding of how genetic differences between people shape the way they respond to their environments.
Research Director, Neurocognitive Development Lab
Center for Mind and Brain UC Davis, Professor, Department of Psychology
Presentation Title: Neuroimaging and Eye Tracking Biomarkers for Understanding Symptom Trajectories in Developmental Disorders
Friday, April 13, 2018 ∽ 11:30-12:30 p.m.
Neuroimaging techniques and psychophysical methods (such as those that can be gained by tracking eye movements) have given us new insights into biomarkers for symptom severity and disease progression in developmental disability. I will present examples of how these methods have helped us gain a deeper understanding of these processes in both the fragile X spectrum of disorders, and in ASD. The presentation will focus on the most pressing concerns for families and how these research findings can help inform treatment and lifestyle decisions.