Neuropsychological studies in children at genetic risk for social dysfunctioning.
Our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying atypical social development is almost exclusively derived from studies with psychiatric populations, mainly autism spectrum disorders. In this research project we will study the neural and cognitive mechanisms contributing to impaired social functioning in children with sex chromosomal abnormalities (SCA) aged 8 to 19 years (Klinefelter syndrome, Triple X syndrome).
Comparing brainfunctioning in children prenatally diagnosed with SCA versus children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders will increase our knowledge of specific, different pathways to early social dysfunctioning and related risk for psychopathology such as autism or psychotic symptoms. Measures of brain functioning include functional and structural MRI, cognitive tests, behavioral and clinical assessments of psychopathology. We also study the influence of gonadal hormones by measuring testosterone levels.
Expanding our scope to children with risk for social difficulties because of a genetic disorder will provide unique insights into the neurodevelopmental mechanisms underlying social impairments and vulnerability for severe psychopathology, beyond those described for children in the autism spectrum.