two female students posing with their professor

Inna Fishman (left front) and Aarti Nair (right front) currently work in Dr. Ralph-Axel Mueller’s Brain Development Imaging Lab.


Aarti Nair received the Dennis Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship in September 2012 from Autism Speaks, which is awarded to attract young, talented scientists into the field of autism research, funding up to eight fellows annually, on a competitive basis.  Weatherstone Fellows will work directly with mentors who are leaders in the field of autism research. The fellowship fills a need to increase the number of promising young scientists who will make autism research their chosen field.

Aarti is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Currently, her research interests lie in multimodal imaging studies of ASD, specifically using fcMRI and DTI tractography to quantify connectivity differences within this population. Recent projects have involved examination of thamalocortical connectivity in ASD using fcMRI and DTI, and quantitative comparison of the impact of various methodological variables on fcMRI findings for ASD.

Inna Fishman was awarded the Autism Sciences Foundation Fellowship in July 2012.  This project examines the integrity of connections among distributed brain regions in individuals with autism, using both EEG and fMRI, aiming to   determine whether individuals with autism have abnormal pattern of connections within neural networks typically associated with social cognition.

Inna Fishman was also awarded the NIMH Career Development Award (K award).  Under this NIH-funded award, she will continue investigating neural mechanisms underlying social cognition in typical and atypical development, which constitute her main research interests, while also focusing on developing expertise in multimodal neuroimaging.   While significant advances have been made in identifying brain functional and structural difference between individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and typically developing  individuals, little is known regarding differences in large-scale brain network interactions that underlie the social deficits in ASD.  Hence, by utilizing multimodal (fMRI, DTI) neuroimaging, the project supported by this award will examine the connectivity patterns of brain areas that participate in neural networks for social cognition in children and adolescents with ASD, theorizing that abnormalities in connections among these neural systems can interfere with, and disrupt the normative social cognitive development in ASD.