Fred R Volkmar MD

Irving B. Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Pediatrics, of Psychiatry and of Psychology

Research Interests

Autism and related disorders; Asperger's disorder; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD); Social development; Diagnosis; Neuropsychology

Current Projects

  • Prospective study of infants at risk for autism
  • Follow-up studies of autism
  • Treatment studies
  • Extending outreach to communities/families

Research Summary

Our research focuses on neurobiology and treatment of autism and related disorders in individuals of all ages (infants through adults). We are interested in mechanisms (brain and genetics) as well as treatment.

Extensive Research Description

Our research has focused on understanding some aspects of the fundamental nature of autism. In particular we are attempting to understand the nature of the social difficulties (autism) that are at the heart of autism and how these relate to the seemingly paradoxical oversensitivity to the nonsocial environment (unusual sensitivities and interests, difficulties with change and novelty). Given the wide range of expression in autism and related disorders we study various groups (from babies to adults, from very cognitively impaired to very cognitively able individuals). We also employ a range of methods including eye tracking, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, and genetic approaches among others. Our work has shown fundamental differences in the way individuals with autism process social interaction. Using innovative experimental approaches we have now extended this work to infants and younger children using visual and auditory tasks. We have recently undertaken a major prospective study of infants at risk for autism in an attempt to better understand how the disorder is manifest early in development. A long standing interest has been in developing better guidelines to diagnosis of autism and related conditions (we were the main coordinators of the DSM-IV field trial for autism). We have also been very interested in developing new methods to screen for and diagnose autism in the first months of life.

Selected Publications

  • Chawarska, K., Volkmar, F., & Klin, A. (2010). Limited Attentional Bias for Faces in toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67:2, 178-185. [PMID: 20124117]
  • Pinto, D., Pagnamenta, A. T., Klei, L., Anney, R., Merico, D., Regan, R., et al. (2010). Functional impact of global rare copy number variation in autism spectrum disorders. [10.1038/nature09146]. Nature, advance online publication. [PMID: 20531469]
  • Reichow, B. & Volkmar, F.R. (2010). Social Skills Interventions for Individuals with Autism: Evaluation for Evidence-Based Practices within a Best Evidence Synthesis Framework. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40:2, 149-166. [PMID: 19655240]
  • Volkmar, F., Jou, R. (In press). Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Preliminary Evidence of Abnormal Neural Connectivity. (ANP-2010-00124.R1), Australian and New Zealand J of Psychiatry.
  • Volkmar, F.R. & Wiesner, E.A. (2009). A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

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