Toddler MRI Project

Identifying early brain markers for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Research Question

As a disorder of brain development, autism affects how the brain grows and works; yet, brain development trajectories accompanying the first symptoms of ASD are almost completely unknown. This study aims to identify how brain networks are organized and change over time during the critical developmental window when ASD symptoms emerge (at age 18-26 months) and reach their peak (at 4-5 years of age).

How can you help?

If you have a 15-60 month old child with a diagnosis of ASD (or suspect she or he may have one), or if you have a typically developing toddler, please consider taking part in this important project. To read more about this line of research, visit

What’s involved?


Diagnostic & Developmental Assessments

Our experienced developmental psychologist will conduct a play-based diagnostic evaluation to assess whether your child may have ASD. At the same time, you will be asked questions about your child’s developmental history.

MRI Scan

You will be asked to bring your child in around his or her bedtime for an MRI scan during natural sleep. No sedation or anesthesia will be involved.

Come back 2 more times

This is a longitudinal study, so we hope to see you back in about 1.5 years and again in 3 years.

Get Compensated

You will be compensated for your time at each visit, and you will be given a picture of your child’s brain!




If you think your child may qualify for this study, please get in touch!
Call (619) 594-2500 or email us at

Coverage from SDSU News Center

“Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control released yet another report updating the prevalence of autism in children. The latest findings suggest that about 2 percent of children in the United States, or about one in 50 children, can be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite this high prevalence and a wealth of research on ASD, little is known about the biological underpinnings of this disorder.

To this end, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded Inna Fishman, a San Diego State University psychologist, a major grant to look for the early “brain signature” of ASD in children around two years of age…”