The Social Cognitive and Neuroscience Laboratory (SCNL) is located at the Building 3 R3705 of Yuan Ze University. Led by Dr. Yang-Teng Fan, the lab is dedicated to explore how the mind, behavior, and brain changes in normal and pathological aging, as well as in the neurodevelopmental conditions (i.e., autism spectrum conditions). As is typical of the cognitive neuroscience approach, our research involves the integration of data from classical research methods and advanced neurotechnologies including behavioral responses, neuropsychological assessment, oculomotor measures, electroencephalography/event-related potentials (EEG/ERPs), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and functional MRI (fMRI). In the near future, I plan to combine and integrate the resources from multidisciplinary fields (i.e., precise medicine, advanced biotechnologies, big data, and artificial intelligence) and my personal transdisciplinary experiences on future research and teaching projects. Our ongoing projects focus on the following topics:
I. The neurolinguistic signatures of normal aging predicts the risk of pathological aging
Aging can generally be viewed as the gradual accumulation of deleterious biological changes accompanying a progressive loss of function. However, the conventional measures used for assessing neurocognitive abilities in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia are not sensitive to provided sophisticated spectrum of neuro-cognitive differentiation among normal and pathological aging. My research conducted a serial investigations and revealed that the verbal fluency performance operates as a protective factor against emotional and cognitive vulnerability in normal aging and pathological aging. Therefore, I focus on the crucial dimensions of cognitive-linguistic ability and develop a machine learning-based predicated model (feedforward Back-Propagation Artificial Neural Network) to identify whether such neurolinguistic markers of normal aging predict the risk of pathological aging (e.g., MCI or dementia).
II. Shared and distinct patterns of sensory responsivity in children with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and their unaffected biological relatives
Aberrant sensory responsivity is a prominent feature for individuals with ASC and has been added to the diagnostic criteria for the disorder. Notably, ASC is a highly-heritable neurodevelopmental condition; however, the concordance in sensory features between parent and child dyads within ASC families is mostly unknown. The series of studies conducted in our lab has shown that alterations in sensory responsivity at both behavioral and neuronal levels as the endophenotypes for ASC. Right now, I am continuing to investigate the triadic relations among the genetic variations (e.g., the GABRβ3 polymorphisms), functional brain responses, and sensory symptoms in ASC for future implications in clinical and educational practice.
III. Efficacy of sensory-based treatment combine with non-invasive brain stimulation for children with autism spectrum conditions
Sensory-based treatment and non-invasive brain stimulation (e.g., transcranial direct current stimulation [tDCS]) are two emerging interventions of ASC. Both of these two treatments were aimed to reduce altered sensory responsivity and increase activation of top-down brain networks in ASC. Our group design a new combined intervention and conduct a randomized, controlled clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of the tDCS with sensory-based treatment in children with ASC. We expect that the combined application of two different but complementary treatments will induce greater levels of positive effects on multiple domains of ASD symptoms (i.e., autistic traits, sensory responsivity, and socioemotional functioning) compared with conventional interventions.