Science Market Update

Michigan State Receives NIH Award for Autism Research

Posted by Gloria Beverage on Fri, Aug 03, 2018

Research into how young children with autism integrate auditory and visual information to learn the meaning of words started this summer at Michigan State University (MSU). The three-year project is funded through a $300,000 Early Career Research Award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH).



( Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Courtney Venker, assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders, is conducting the study that will focus on patterns of non-social attention and its impact on language development. The study will target children ages 2 to 5 who have been diagnosed with autism.

“A lot of children with autism have trouble learning language and can lag behind in terms of what they understand and say,” said Venker in a Research@MSU article.  “Attention can be a factor. This project looks beyond social attention to discover what kids are perceiving or looking at when they’re not engaging with people, and to use that knowledge to support their language development.”

Parents or primary caregivers will be spending time with their toddlers in the College’s Lingo Lab, the setting for observing nearly 40 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 40 children with typical development. MSU undergraduate and graduate students will join Venker in interacting with the participants.

A variety of methods, including standardized language and cognitive assessments as well as behavior during parent-child play, will be used. Data will be collected by remotely tracking eye movement to judge how children with ASD integrate auditory and visual information when learning language. Eye-tracking is less obtrusive than asking children to answer questions or point to an item, Venker noted.

The Lingo Lab, located in the Oyer Speech & Hearing Building, has been designed to assist researchers study the development of language skills in children with autism. The building houses eight research laboratories as well as shared research spaces and is equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and software that enables staff and students (undergraduate and graduate) to conduct high quality research.

“The intent of this award is to gather preliminary data for larger scale studies in a couple of years,” continued Venker, a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist. As director of the Lingo Lab, Venker is interested in analyzing how adults simplify their speech when talking to children with language delays. The goal is to determine what types of simplified speech patterns are suitable for supporting language development.

The funding agency has supported basic and clinical research and research training on communication and sensory disorders for more than 30 years. NICDC’s mandate is to conduct and support biomedical and behavior research and research planning documents. 

In 2017, MSU received 160 awards, totaling more than $58 million, from NIH. The university’s research efforts have been recognized for many years, including its selection in 2010 as one of 30 locations to participate in NIH’s National Children’s Study, the largest long-term examination of children’s health ever conducted in the U.S. 

MSU Researchers to Meet with Laboratory Equipment Suppliers at Bioresearch Product Faire Event:

Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) occurs in every racial and ethnic group across all socioeconomic levels. The latest analysis from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has ASD. This means the research being done at MSU could potentially impact millions of people. And this is only one of 160 MSU research projects funded by the NIH. To conduct all this ground breaking research, scientists need access to the latest in laboratory equipment.  


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Laboratory equipment suppliers wishing to increase their scientific sales in 2018 should plan to attend The 18th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ event at Michigan State University on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018. 

This is an excellent opportunity for lab suppliers to meet face to face with life science researchers and educate them about current lab and chemical supply products. For more information call 530-272-6675 or click on the link below:

Learn More About MSU Event

Life science professionals are invited to attend the annual on campus biotechnology trade show for free. Click the button below for additional information or to pre-register. 

Researchers Attend MSU Event  sell laboratory supplies at MSU bioresrearch product faire

While in the area, lab suppliers may also want to consider exhibiting the following day at the annual BioResearch Product Faire™  Event at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor on Thursday, August 9th, 2018.

Tags: Michigan State University, Research Funding, laboratory equipment suppliers, MSU, scientific sales, research news, BioResearch Product Faire, autism research, Biotechnology trade show, nih research funding

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