MIND Institute Projects

Both, The Language of Children in the Autism Phenome Project and the Virtual Reality Project were funded by collogues at the MIND Institute in collaboration with UConn’s Language Plasticity IGERT.

UC Davis MIND Institute

The Autism Phenome Project has collected an enormous amount of behavioral, neurological, genetic, and epidemiological data from a large sample of children diagnosed with ASD. Our team is working on characterizing their language in detail, including exploring possible subgroups of language functioning and language-brain relationships.

  • Amaral, D. G., Li, D., Libero, L., Solomon, M., Van de Water, J., Mastergeorge, A., & … Wu Nordahl, C. (2017). In pursuit of neurophenotypes: The consequences of having autism and a big brain. Autism Research.
  • Naigles, L. R., Johnson, R., Mastergeorge, A., Ozonoff, S., Rogers, S. J., Amaral, D. G., & Nordahl, C. W. (2017). Neural correlates of language variability in preschool‐aged boys with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research.
  • Wittke, K., Mastergeorge, A., Ozonoff, S., Rogers, S. & Naigles, L. (2017) Grammatical Impairment and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Exploring Language Phenotypes Beyond Standardized Testing. Frontiers in Language Sciences.


Language in Children with ASD during varying cognitive loads—the Virtual Reality Project. What happens to the language of high-functioning children with ASD when they are engaged in a virtual reality task? They pretend they are talking to a classroom of their peers, and across 6 minutes the task increases in cognitive load. Our team is analyzing the children’s speech on at the lexical, grammatical, and pragmatic levels.