Svenja Espenhahn is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Calgary who obtained her PhD in Clinical Neuroscience from UCL’s Institute of Neurology, UK. During her PhD, she used electroencephalography (EEG) analysis methods and a novel motor learning task to study brain mechanisms underlying motor learning in healthy ageing and after stroke. As a postdoctoral scholar in the Child and Adolescent Imaging Research (CAIR) program at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, she extends her research on neural mechanisms underlying brain (dys)function to young children (aged 3-6 years) with and without neurodevelopmental disorders and its influence on behavior.
Abnormalities in the response to touch are key features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and have been suggested to exacerbate social and communication problems. However, despite the early emergence of sensory symptoms in ASD (often by age 3), little is known about tactile (touch) processing in children under the age of 8. Using EEG and precise fingertip stimulation, my project aims to fill this gap by comparing tactile and EEG measures between young children aged 3-6 years with and without ASD, and examine their relationship with parent reports of sensory, social and behavioral symptom severity.