John R. Pruett, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Neurosciences Program

  • 314-747-6751

  • 314-286-0068 (Teddi Gray)

  • 314-747-6777

  • 8134

  • 3429 East Building



  • fcMRI, fMRI, infant, autism, face perception, visual attention, psychophysics, social cognition, comparative cognition

  • Bain functional connectivity in autistic and non-autistic subjects/ Intermediate visual mechanisms supporting face perception

Research Abstract:

The Cognitive & Perceptual Development Lab has three primary areas of interest: (1) fcMRI studies of large-scale brain networks that may be altered in autism, (2) visual attention to face and non-face stimuli / face perception in autism and typical development, and (3) comparative studies of social relatedness and theory of mind.

Brain functional connectivity -- Evidence is increasing that autism may, at a fundamental level, result from alterations in brain growth and interregional connectivity. Functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) looks for interregional correlations between low frequency fluctuations in the BOLD signal that define functional connections between brain regions. fcMRI is an ideal method for testing connectivity hypotheses about autism. My colleagues Steve Petersen and Bradley Schlaggar have used fcMRI and developed powerful network analysis methods, based in part on graph theory, to explore functional brain networks in typical and atypical development. My lab collaborates with these investigators on fcMRI studies of autistic and non-autistic children and adults. My lab now has R01 funding to conduct fcMRI studies in infants who are at high risk for autism, in association with an on-going multi-site Autism Centers of Excellence MRI / DTI study.

Visual attention and perception -- Problems with eye-gaze, joint attention, and attention to / perception of face versus non-face stimuli may be central to autism. We employed a modified Covert Orienting of Attention Task to examine the automatic and voluntary redirection of attention to gaze and non-gaze stimuli in autistic and non-autistic children. A parallel set of studies used visual search for face and non-face stimuli to explore attentional capture for these different classes of stimuli. Related work explored mid-level visual mechanisms involved in face perception (testing typically developing adults).

A comparative approach to social functioning -- In a collaborative effort with colleague Daniel Povinelli (University of Louisiana), we are building a program of research aimed at dissecting the cognitive contributions to species-typical social functioning. We developed a cross-species (human-chimpanzee) social functioning measure modeled after John Constantino’s Social Responsiveness Scale. We recently published an experience sampling study of real-world use of Theory of Mind.

Selected Publications:

Bryant L, Coffey A, Povinelli DJ, and Pruett JR, Jr. Theory of mind experience sampling in typical adults. Consciousness and Cognition 2013; 22(3): 697-707.

Pruett JR, Jr., Hoertel S, Constantino JN, LaMacchia Moll A, McVey K, Squire E, Feczko E, Povinelli DJ, and Petersen S. Impaired eye region search accuracy in children with autistic spectrum disorders. PLOS ONE 2013; 8(3): e58167.

Feczko E, Miezin F, Constantino JN, Schlaggar B, Petersen S, and Pruett JR, Jr. The hemodynamic response in children with Simplex Autism. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 2012; 2(4): 396-408.

Marrus N, Faughn C, Shuman J, Petersen S, Constantino JN, Povinelli D, and Pruett JR, Jr. Initial description of a quantitative, cross-species (chimpanzee-human) social responsiveness measure. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2011; 50(5):508-518.

Pruett JR, Jr., LaMacchia A, Hoertel S, Squire E, McVey K, Todd RD, Constantino JN, and Petersen S. Social and non-social cueing of visuospatial attention in autism and typical development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2011; 41(6): 715-731.

Dosenbach NUF, Nardos B, Cohen AL, Fair DA, Power JD, Church JA, Nelson SM, Wig GS, Vogel AC, Lessov-Schlaggar CN, Barnes KA, Dubis JW, Feczko E, Coalson RS, Pruett JR, Jr., Barch DM, Petersen SE, Schlaggar BL. Prediction of individual brain maturity using fMRI. Science 2010; 329(5997): 1358-1361. PMID: 20829489.

Pruett JR, Jr., Sinclair RJ, Burton H. Neural correlates for roughness choice in monkey second somatosensory cortex (SII). J Neurophysiol 2001; 86: 2069-2080. PMID: 11600662.

Pruett JR, Jr., Sinclair RJ, Burton H. Response patterns in monkey second somatosensory cortex (SII) during a passive touch roughness classification task. J Neurophysiol 2000; 84: 780-797. PMID 10938305.

Last Updated: 10/27/2014 11:19:26 AM

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