Sarah Paterson, PhD, is Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine and the Director of the Infant Neuroimaging Lab at the Center for Autism Research at CHOP. Dr. Paterson is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist and her research focuses on cognitive and brain development in infants and toddlers with developmental disorders. Her research, thus far, has highlighted the importance of detailed investigations of cognitive processes across development, and has demonstrated that developmental disorders are not the same as acquired disorders, where localized brain damage gives rise to a juxtaposed pattern of impaired and intact abilities. For many years, Dr. Paterson has studied language and number development in infants and young children with Williams Syndrome and Down-Syndrome; currently her primary focus is on infants who are at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
At CHOP, Dr. Paterson leads a study through the NIH-funded Autism Centers of Excellence investigating brain and cognitive development in the infant siblings of children with ASD. In this Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS), infants are studied from 6 months old through toddlerhood to measure brain growth and to investigate how changes in the brain over development might be linked to ASD.
Dr. Paterson has an infant and toddler lab which is equipped for cognitive and behavioral testing of infants and toddlers. She uses gaze tracking technology to investigate what infants pay attention to; and can assess a variety of cognitive skills including, memory, face perception and word learning using data collected by means of this methodology. In addition, she is beginning to investigate early brain function using EEG and functional MRI.
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