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Dr. Aylward's research focuses on the use of brain imaging with structural and functional MRI (fMRI) to determine what abnormalities characterize various neuropsychiatric, neurodevelopmental, and neurodegenerative disorders in human development. She is currently working on a multi-site study that uses fMRI to assess gender-specific brain changes in children and adolescents with autism. Another project uses structural MRI to detect the earliest signs of Huntington’s disease and determine how to predict timing of the beginning clinical manifestations of the disease. This information is essential for future trials of experimental drugs that could delay onset of HD and/or slow its progression. MRI data from this study are being used to identify individual patients whose disease progression is either much faster or slower than would be predicted from the length of their CAG repeat on the HD gene; collaborators at Massachusetts General Hospital will perform extensive genetic testing on these individuals with the goal of identifying other genes that may modify the disease process.
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