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Course Details

Martha Herbert: Transcending Autism


Description: A whole-body-brain systems and gene-environment approach.
Emerging Science Leading to Major Reconceptualizations of What Autism Is
• Not a broken brain
• Many with autism are highly gifted
• Issues are often expression and coordination, not capability
• (more dyspraxia than deficit)
• Not purely genetic
• Environment plays big role
• Number actually going up
• Not just brain
• Whole body, multi-system pathophysiological involvement
• (brain, gut, immune, endocrine, metabolism, bioenergetics)
• Not life sentence
• Variable, changeable, treatable, some who lose diagnosis
• Great potential

Bio: Dr. Herbert’s main research interests are in addressing autism as a “dynamic encephalopathy” (changeable) rather than a “static ehcephalopathy” (fixed for life) and in how environmental vulnerability affects brain and body health and function.

She therefore takes three approaches: 1) a whole body system’s biology view of how autism emerges – or not – in infants at high risk for autism (she has an older sibling on the spectrum); 2) combining multi-modal brain imaging and biomarkers to study the interface between metabolic/immune disturbances and altered brain signaling, which could be the “ground zero” of autism for many, and 3) applying these approaches to the systems biology of improvement and recovery in autism as well as other disorders and situations where complex systems are challenged.