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Rutgers and The Seaver Autism Center Clinical Trial

The following note is from Elizabeth Torres of Rutgers Sensory Motor Lab, regarding the exciting technology they have developed and are using for the Seaver Autism Center Phelan-McDermid Syndrome clinical trial.

“We have developed here at Rutgers the objective metrics that Alex mentions they will use/develop. This has been under a National Science Foundation grant from the Cyber Enabled Discovery Initiative under the Type I Idea cluster. Our NSF grant title is "A novel quantitative framework to study lack of social interactions in Autism" and it started in 2009. It ends in August 2012. My co-PI on it is Prof. Dimitris Metaxas from Rutgers Computer Science. We also have funding from the NJ Governor's council and I am a co-PI on that one with Professor Maggie Shiffrar from Rutgers Newark.

In the lab we have developed in collaboration with Professor Jose from Indiana University, the first comprehensive suite of objective metrics to address the stochastic rhythms of the body at the autonomic, automatic and voluntary levels of functionality. We are looking for changes in the patterns of random fluctuations of motion parameters at all these levels. These random variations are a form of reafferent sensory input that becomes reintegrated into the continuous flow of motor output. They can inform us over different time scales of changes in kinesthetic sensing -the senses of movement, touch, temperature and pain- which are routed through important sensory motor pathways with different phylogenetic evolutionary history. We search for patterns at each of these functional levels that would distinguish someone like Rebecca from a child with autism of idiopathic origins, so we can build a general objective diagnostics tool.

FYI Attached is a paper with our first case study featuring some of the metrics that we will use to assess the changes in Rebecca adapted to the gait study and below is a link to a Research Topic that we organized to highlight the importance of movement and its objectivity in the measurements, diagnostics and treatments of autism like conditions.


We have so far 42 contributors world wide. There is a community out there beginning to realize the importance of these types of measurements, yet we have developed the first set of such objective metrics and the proper framework to pose the problems of sensory-motor integration and cognition in closed loop.

I mention this because there are no other such metrics out there. We have a patent pending here at Rutgers and have copyrighted the avatar design as well, which our student Polina Yanovich created. Even though this is an informal video, it does reach an audience out there. It is important -if our objective metrics are mentioned and if Rutgers is mentioned- to give credit to the NSF grant and to the NJ Governor's grant which funded these 3 years of research so we could develop our objective metrics of sensory-motor integration which the Mount Sinai group (and other groups) will be able to make use of.

Also it is important to mention that in this development we have collaborated with Indiana University, specifically with a well known theoretical physicist Prof. Jorge V Jose who played a critical role in the development of specific theoretical components of the metrics and who continues to do research with us along those more hard-core mathematical lines that he is an expert on.”

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