Year: 2013 Neuroscience
I looked to address a possible interaction between spatial perspective taking and social abilities. Individuals have different levels of comfort and ability in social situations. I hypothesized that this variability in social skills may influence perspective-taking abilities, and found that social skills and perspective taking were significantly correlated with each other. When there is a social agent present, a subject’s performance in a perspective-taking task varied according to that individual’s social skills. We are now testing the relationship in children and exploring how far an agency correlation can be pushed. We hope to eventually improve current therapeutic approaches, for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, aimed at developing social skills by using strengths. 2.) Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder caused by a mutation in the huntingtin gene. Although this protein is expressed ubiquitously throughout the brain and body, it predominantly caused atrophy of a specific set of neurons in the striatum. Earlier work in the Snyder lab found that Rhes, a small G protein enriched in striatum, interacts with the mutant huntingtin protein and promotes neurotoxicity. I have mapped the binding region down to the C-terminal 70 amino acids of Rhes.