Universities get funds to research autism and hypersensitivity to sound

researchRiverside, CA– University of California Riverside (UCR) and University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) have been awarded grants to study Fragile X syndrome (FXS).  The UCR Today article states that FXS  is ‘the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability and the most common cause of autism.’

The study will focus on auditory hypersensitivity-a sensitivity to sounds that cause negative emotional and psychical effects to the listener. People effected by sounds usually close their ears and run from the source. They may also have trouble adapting to the repetitious sounds in their environment.

The 8.7 grant money was awarded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), UCR’s own Office of Research and Economic Development from the FRAXA Research Foundation. UTSW Medical Center located in Dallas will get about 2.7 of the grant. Both universities will receive portions of the grant money over five years.

UCR study team will be headed by an associate professor of psychology and an auditory neurophysiologist Khaleel Razak, a professor of biomedical sciences and a molecular neurobiologist Iryna Ethell, and Devin Binder, an associate professor of biomedical sciences and an expert on seizures.

Razor will focus on development of response selectivity in cortical neurons. Ethell will focus on neurons in the auditory cortex for possible drug development, and Binder will focus on identifying auditory physiological biomarkers. The researchers hope to uncover clues as to why FXS and it’s main component, sensitivity to sounds, causes autism.

Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingsead