Executive Vice Rectorate of Graduate Studies and Research
Capes PrInt

Evaluation of tools for the detection of neurodevelopmental, language and social cognition disorders in children and young people, and investigation of the effectiveness of educational therapeutic interventions

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Claudia Berlim de Mello


Genetic susceptibility and exposure to adverse life events during periods of neurodevelopment, such as low cognitive stimulation and chronic stress are risk factors for vulnerable individuals leading to a lifelong impact. We will emphasize developmental disorders, both language and social cognition related. The protocols aim to evaluate the effectiveness of preschool early intervention programs to promote oral and written language skills through Randomized Clinical Trials that will consider adverse socioeconomic conditions associated with inadequate cognitive stimulation and stress. These are multidisciplinary studies that include 1) speech-language assessment of reading disorders obtained by eye tracking and analyzed through artificial neural networks to identify visual patterns of performance that may add to differential diagnosis of dyslexia; and 2) evaluation of the effectiveness of a teacher training program to promote the language development of children at risk for speech and language disorders. Another related study focuses on the translation and adaptation of an assessment tool for communicative competence in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Still in children with ASD we will investigate the mental processes underlying the understanding and response to the intentions, emotions and thoughts of the other person (social cognition). Social cognition skills influence the capacity for socialization and formal learning. We will evaluate tests associated with physiological measures such as skin conductance, pupillometry, and eye-tracking. Finally, the linguistic- gestural description of the productions of children with ASD in interaction will be evaluated, offering intelligibility to the way these interactions take place. Inappropriate responses will be reexamined from a linguistic perspective by offering theoretical and practical support to family members and health professionals who interact with such children. These associated projects involve 7 of the 9 participating PGPs. Complementary clinical trials will evaluate the effects of executive function training and language skills on school readiness in preschool children, with the aim of adapting and comparing intervention programs. In addition, we will investigate the efficacy of combined transcranial stimulation combined with integrative therapy on cognition in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ASD, Dyslexia and others. In the basic research, we emphasize studies based on the neonatal stress paradigm. Perinatal stress can result in inadequate hormonal responses to stress and depression. Our studies aim to investigate the neurobiology underlying the behavioral changes induced by neurochemical, pharmacological and molecular approaches. The results may support therapeutic approaches for affective disorders mainly in the youth population.

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