Promising new advances in treatments for autism

31 July 2014

Promising new treatments for autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and behavioural problems in children will be revealed by world-leading researchers at a free symposium hosted by University of Sydney on Monday 4 August, 2014.

University of Sydney autism expert Dr Adam Guastella, world-renowned neuroscience researcher Professor Larry Young (USA), and top child mental health researchers in Australia will speak at The Neuroscience of Mental Health Disorders in Children symposium.

Dr Guastella's presentation will reveal a new medical treatment for autism that improves social impairment, emotional understanding and social skills. He will speak about promising new treatments for these problems and their applications in young children with autism.

This research highlights a potential new class of medications says Dr Guastella, who will also discuss some of the biological markers (such as heart rate and social cognition) that researchers have been using to assess change or treatment response in autism.

"These markers are critical to understanding why treatment works and how we might improve treatments into the future," he said.

Professor Larry Young is one of the most respected and recognized researchers in the field of social neuroscience in the world, and was recently awarded the Golden Brain Award. His research has forged new discoveries about what makes humans social, including mapping neural and genetic influences and novel treatments for social problems.

Professor Young will present data at the symposium that demonstrates that the "bonding hormone" oxytocin plays an important role in the ability to form social relationships in children with autism.

The Neuroscience of Mental Health Disorders in Children

SESSION 1 - 12:30pm - 2:10pm

Professor Ian Hickie, University of Sydney - Introduction

Professor Larry J. Young, Emory University School of Medicine, USA - Oxytocin and the Neurobiology of Social Relationships: Implications for Novel Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Associate Professor Adam Guastella, University of Sydney - Translating Laboratory Models into Clinical Interventions and Benefits for Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Dr Guastella will present findings suggesting new treatments for autism spectrum disorder and important biological markers that may relate to treatment response.

SESSION 2 - 2:30pm - 4:30pm

Professor Mark Dadds, University of New South Wales - Love, Reciprocated Eye Gaze and Oxytocin Function in Developmental Risk for Psychopathy
Professor Dadds will present his state of the art treatments for behaviour problems in children.

Professor Jennie Hudson, Macquarie University - Identifying Predictors of Outcome in Childhood Anxiety Disorders: Results from a large, combined sample
Professor Hudson will present on the role of genetic influences on treatments for anxiety and the role of parents' behaviour in anxiety treatment.

Professor Rhoshel Lenroot, University of New South Wales - Developing Empathy: What have we learned from neuroimaging studies?
Professor Lenroot will discuss the latest neuroimaging and genetic studies for children with autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and conduct problems.

Professor Stewart Einfeld, University of Sydney - Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Efficacy to cost-benefit
Professor Einfeld will discuss how interventions can impact at a community level to create change for families and people with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities.

Event details:

Event: The Neuroscience of Mental Health Disorders in Children
Date/Time: Monday 4 August, 2014, 12:30 - 4:30pm
Venue: Brain and Mind Research Institute, 5th Floor Lecture Theatre, 94 Mallett Street, Camperdown, NSW
Cost: Free event, registration required
Registration: Register online at
Event contact: Lisa Whittle, 9114 4104

Media enquiries: Kobi Print, 0481 012 729, 9036 7589,

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