Bhismadev Chakrabarti is Professor of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and Research Director of the Centre for Autism at University of Reading. Bhisma Chakrabarti’s research group at the University of Reading studies empathy and autism using multiple techniques that measure behaviour, genetic differences, autonomic, and brain activity. Bhisma read Chemistry at the University of Delhi and Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge. His doctoral research with Simon Baron-Cohen at the Autism Research Centre focussed on empathy and emotion processing. He was subsequently awarded the Charles and Katharine Darwin Research Fellowship at Darwin College, Cambridge. His research on empathy and reward is supported by a New Investigator award from the Medical Research Council UK. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize in Psychology.
Challenging barriers in autism: Perspectives from neuroscience and epidemiology
Autism constitutes of a diverse spectrum of lifelong conditions that pose significant challenges for all those with a diagnosis, as well as those around them. My lecture will focus on some invisible barriers within and outside the brain, that pose key challenges. The first set of barriers in Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) that I will discuss, is that of understanding others’ emotions. Our research over the last decade using fMRI, psychophysiology and behavioural techniques point to brain mechanisms underlying this set of barriers. The second set of barriers that I will focus on is that of efficient and early detection of ASC: early detection is the first step to effective interventions and improving outcome. Unfortunately in a majority of countries around the world, there is a significant gap in detection of ASC, which then acts as a barrier to effective intervention. I will present insights from our research in India, where more than 5 million children are estimated to be on the autism spectrum. Through adapting, validating, and using tools for autism screening and diagnosis in over 10000 children in India, we have attempted to scale some of these barriers.