Project 1: Autism & Aging: Accelerated aging & HETEROGENEITY?
Participants: We are looking for adults with an autism diagnosis (ASD, autism, Asperger, PDD-NOS) and/or ADHD aged 30 to 90 years as we started with a (longitudinal) follow-up study. We also need participants without an autism and/or ADHD diagnosis. If you want to participate you can request information here.
Short rationale: You are not as fast as you used to be, you become more emotional, and sometimes you have trouble adapting to a changing environment. In other words, you are aging. These cognitive and emotional changes are related to changes in your brain. What if adapting to changes was already difficult when you were young? What happens during aging if your brain was not optimally functioning anyway? Will everything deteriorate faster, or do efficient compensatory mechanisms develop? Suppose you have autism which is associated with early neurodevelopmental atypicalities in cognitive mechanisms that are known to deteriorate with aging. What happens with these cognitive mechanisms when common aging-effects kick in? These are the overarching questions of the current project.
The goal of this project is to understand what happens on a cognitive level when people with autism age. We ran a series of studies to test the main assumption that aging in people with autism follows a different trajectory (i.e., a steeper decrease) than in people without autism. So far we did not observe a pattern of findings that is suggestive of a steeper decrease. On both a cognitive level as well as on the brain level we hardly observed differences between those with and without ASD.
Therefore, in the current study we will focus on a) differences in cognitive strategies (to unravel how do people do a task) and b) subgroup detection (to unravel heterogeneity). This means that next to a series of questionnaires, participants are interviewed and will conduct a series of cognitive tests.
For a description of this project in Dutch see d’Arc onderzoek.