Brock Professor Searching for Early Signs of Autism With McGill University

Sid Segalowitz

Dr. Sid Segalowitz is on a mission to find autism earlier than ever before. Segalowitz works in the department of Psychology at Brock University and achieved his Ph. D at Cornell University in Ithaca New York. He is attempting to find autism or signs of it, as early as possible. “Autism is one of those conditions where, if they can diagnose it early, then intervention can have a huge beneficial effect,” Segalowitz explained. This could be a massive study that could completely revolutionize our understanding of not only autism itself but how a child’s brain develops when afflicted with mental illness.

Segalowitz and his research team are well regarded for their ability with interpreting, recording and reading EEG (electroencephalogram) readings and have been turned to by McGill University. In fact, the study that McGill University asked Segalowitz’s team to do is quite new. The request from McGill is specifically to clean up and interpret a large amount of data from hundreds of children, which is exactly what sets this study apart. Since it can be incredibly difficult to gather data from infants and babies it can be quite daunting to study them. Should this study go well at the very least we will have a far greater understanding of autism, in which knowledge is lacking as far as our understanding  goes.

“Most of our knowledge about brainwave patterns as they relate to information and emotional processing come from adults and not from babies, so this is exploratory. The patterns in infants are not so straightforward,” said Segalowitz. This is quite fascinating as we have an opportunity to learn a lot more about ourselves and how we function as children. Our brains are capable of incredible things, but this is especially true during infancy as a child grows so much during the early portions of their life they must be able to take in an unquantifiable amount of information. It is this unknown aspect of the research that creates such an interesting problem for Segalowitz and his team. As they are scanning the EEG readings looking for patterns it isn’t completely clear what kind of pattern would present itself.

While the study is in place to attempt to interpret the brainwaves in an exploratory manner Segalowitz noted that one should not look at a condition like autism as a simple cause and effect basis. It is a highly complicated and not completely understood condition, and he warns very clearly against taking it simply as no one truly understands it just yet.

What this does for the Brock community is offer something to look at as an example of opportunities available for those searching for higher learning at Brock. While Brock has been garnering a reputation as a school in which many important studies and research are happening, we have been incredibly fortunate to continue this trend this year with a multitude of works conducted by many different professors.

It allows for a great deal of pride to move the school when one can look almost any department and see the beneficial studies being done there. Segalowitz’ studies are no different as he is undertaking this. However, simply the fact that this research is being done is a great feat for both the school and Dr. Segalowitz. We wish Dr. Segalowitz the best of luck in his research and hope that at the very least this leads to a learning opportunity whether that comes to each of our own brains and how they operate or autism itself.


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