Pediatric Neuroimaging Lab

This lab researches the neural and behavioral origins of autism.

To better understand the etiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and inform intervention, the Pediatric Neuroimaging Lab investigates the neural and behavioral origins of ASD. Specifically, we use MRI to examine how the brain grows and develops in the first year of life and how changes in the developing brain are associated with changes in infant behavior. Given our focus on brain development in early infancy, we also work to develop new tools and methods for collecting high-quality MRI data from infants and for charting brain development in the first months of life.

Associated studies

Pivotal transitions in early infancy that shape network development of the social brain: This project examines how early social behaviors and early brain development unfold differently in infants who are later diagnosed with autism. We are currently enrolling infants who have an older full biological sibling with ASD and infants who have no family history of autism.

Measuring gene-environment transactions to identify sensitive periods for infant social behavior and brain growth: This project follows the development of identical and fraternal twins in order to examine the influence of genetic and environmental factors on social development and brain growth. Results will help us identify optimal intervention targets for preventing the development of social disability. We are currently enrolling twin pairs (identical and fraternal) with or without a family history of developmental disability.

Neuroimaging of the schizophrenia-associated 3q29 deletion: The goal of this project is to understand brain structure and function in 3q29 deletion, the first-ever study of this kind in 3q29 deletion syndrome. This project will help us understand the core pathophysiology underlying neuropsychiatric conditions. We are currently enrolling patients with 3q29 deletion syndrome, as well as typically developing school-age children.

Recent publications

  1. Sifre, R., Olson, L., Gillespie, S., Klin, A., Jones, W., & Shultz, S. (2018). A longitudinal investigation of preferential attention to biological motion in 2- to 24-month-old infants. Scientific Reports. PMID, 29410484.
  2. Shultz, S., Klin, A., & Jones, W. (2018). Neonatal transitions in social behavior and their implications for autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. PMID, 29609895.
  3. Ardesch, D., Scholtens, L., Li, L., Preuss, T., Rilling, J., & Van den Heuvel, M. Evolutionary expansion of connectivity between multimodal association areas in the human brain compared to chimpanzees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019, 201818512.
  4. Li, L., Bachevalier, J., Hu, X., Klin, A., Preuss, T.M., Shultz, S., & Jones, W. Topology of the Structural Social Brain Network in Typical Adults. Brain connectivity. Nov. 1, 2018. 8(9):537-48. PubMed PMID, 30280929.


Co-directors and primary contacts

Sarah Shultz, PhD

Longchuan Li, PhD

Faculty members

Warren Jones, PhD
Ami Klin, PhD

Project coordinators and research assistants

Brittney Sholar, Research Administrative Project Coordinator
Jordan Pincus, Research Assistant
Jennifer Gutierrez, Research Assistant

Graduate students

Zeena Ammar, neuroscience
Aiden Ford, neurosicence
Mahmoud Zeydabadinezhad, biomedical informatics

Pre-doctoral fellows

Adriana Mendez
Tristan Ponzo


Joanna Beugnon
Carly Reineri
Lindsey Evans
Torrey Cohenour