Michelle Hoogenhout receives accolades in Australia

25 Aug 2016 - 09:00

Michelle Hoogenhout attended the International Society for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD) conference in Melbourne, Australia. The conference was attended by delegates from all over the world and had a strong focus on inclusive and applied research. Michelle presented work from her doctoral research, which focuses on the possible link between autonomic dysregulation and difficulties with social reciprocity in autism spectrum disorder. She investigated the influence of autonomic arousal on the experience of empathy for others, and found that heightened parasympathetic regulation - responsible for restful states and digestion - and reduced sympathetic regulation - responsible for the fight or flight response - is associated with reduced empathy for others' pain, regardless of whether participants had high or low amounts of autism traits. Autism was not associated with atypical autonomic arousal at rest. We need more research on autonomic arousal in autism before we rush into using new therapies based on changing autonomic arousal.

Michelle received a prestigious Stevens-Shapiro award for her work, as well as an award for distinguished poster presentation from IASSIDD.