APL Colloquium

April 7, 2017

Colloquium Topic: Autism: What is it, what can be done, what might be done?

Autism Awareness Month Colloquium

What is currently called autism is a collection of neurodevelopmental disorders with many common features, but also with many differences across subgroups and across individuals within those subgroups. This lecture will briefly outline those subgroups and highlight some of the quantitative differences found in individuals across subgroups. A brief discussion will follow of what is currently known or strongly suspected about the neurobiologic basis for these disorders, the behavioral and cognitive impairments these individuals may have, and the prerequisites for teaching new skills and suppressing undesirable behaviors.  Such knowledge is essential for guiding rational treatments or possible treatments for the condition. One important conclusion that will emerge is the necessity for highly personalized approaches to treatment and supportive care. Both proven treatments and those likely to have some efficacy will be discussed, along with some near-term possibilities for treatment or assistance with the condition, including new efforts by JHMI’s Neurology Department (Division of Cognitive Neurology/Neuropsychology) in conjunction with investigators at the APL.

Colloquium Speaker: Barry Gordon

Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., is a behavioral neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.  His work focuses on identifying and implementing better methods for improving language, memory, thinking skills, and learning in individuals with developmental and acquired brain conditions such as autism and aphasia.   He himself has a low-functioning, non-verbal adult son with autism, and he directs a full-time, home-based educational program run by Hopkins for another low-functioning young man with autism.  Dr. Gordon is the inaugural holder of the Therapeutic Cognitive Neuroscience professorship, and Professor of Neurology with a Joint Appointment in Cognitive Science.  He founded and directs the Cognitive Neurology/Neuropsychology Division of Hopkins’ Neurology Department, and is on the Steering Committee of Hopkins’ Science of Learning Institute.

He has authored or co-authored over 160 scientific articles and book chapters, and two books on memory for the general public.  He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, and has been President of the Behavioral Neurology Society, and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Aphasia.  Dr. Gordon’s work has received national and international media attention, including guest appearances on programs such as the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, NBC’s Dateline, and the PBS series The Brain.  His work with autism has been noted on such programs as NPR’s A Scientist's Saga: Give Son The Gift Of Speech.

Dr. Gordon received a B.S. degree from Pennsylvania State University and an M.D. degree from Thomas Jefferson through their Five Year Cooperative Program in Medicine.   After medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center, he did his neurology residency at Hopkins, joined the School of Medicine faculty, and then got M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology (Experimental Psycholinguistics) from the University.