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New MIT center to fund autism research

Dec 15, 2011 -- 4:56 pm
A new center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will focus on unraveling the neuroscience behind social behaviors, helping to push forward research and, the scientists hope, to advance diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

The Simons Center for the Social Brain is funded by a $26.5 million gift from the Simons Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in New York that supports science and mathematics research and has previously provided another $15 million to the university to support autism research.

Autism spectrum disorders encompass a range of conditions that vary in their severity and affect an estimated one in 110 children in the United States, leaving them with communication problems, repetitive behaviors, and impaired social abilities. The new center will drive research into the basis in the brain of social behaviors - including how people interact socially and how they understand other people’s emotions and thoughts - and also fuel the search for ways to better diagnose and treat disorders where those abilities go awry.
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