Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has an estimated incidence of 1:68 in the United States and is among the most common and pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders. Difficulties in face processing, one central component of social behaviors, have been identified as a characteristic behavioral phenotype of ASD. Unfortunately, the cognitive and brain sources of this difficulty remain largely unclear, especially in children. Therefore, my proposed research focuses on understanding the abnormalities in the brains of children with ASD and their relationship with social deficits.
The rise of obesity in childhood is a concern in both Europe and North America. Among the factors contributing to the global epidemic of obesity, food neophobia, a propensity to avoid new foods, has been identified as an important psychological barrier to healthy eating at the preschool age. Prior work has demonstrated that food neophobia is associated with poor conceptual knowledge about the food domain in preschoolers, thus improving preschoolers’ cognitive comprehension of the food domain could boost their dietary variety.