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Non-invasive Brain Stimulation in Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

Dr. Peter Enticott , Professor Paul Fitzgerald

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of neurodevelopmental conditions that are characterized by social, communicative, and behavioural impairments. Although the neurobiological basis of ASD is becoming clearer, there are currently no validated biomedical treatments targeting the core symptoms. Recent developments in non-invasive brain stimulation, however, have provided important insights into possible underlying neural mechanisms and the development of potential new treatments. Our current research, which involves repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), indicates that non-invasive brain stimulation in ASD can lead to significant improvements in both neurophysiological indicators and clinical presentation. This research enhances our neurobiological understanding of ASD and is a promising development in the search for new therapeutic interventions for these conditions.

Applied Neuroscience Society of Australasia. Annual Conference
Cognitive Enhancement, Neuromodulation and Neurodiagnostics.
Sydney Australia . August 12-14 2011
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Peter Enticott
Peter Enticott
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Dr. Peter Enticott

Dr. Peter Enticott is a Research Fellow at MAPrc, a position he has held since 2006. Peter’s research investigates the brain basis of autism, Asperger’s disorder and schizophrenia using modern neuroscience techniques, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). He is particularly interested in social neuroscience and the use of TMS to treat autism spectrum disorders. Peter’s current projects include studies of the mirror neuron system, social cognition, theory of mind, and cortical inhibition.
In 2006 Peter completed a PhD at Monash University, where he examined neuropsychological factors associated with impulsivity and aggression among violent offenders. Prior to this he completed his undergraduate studies in psychology at Deakin University.
Peter is a registered psychologist, and has worked in autism research since 2001. He has published several scientific articles in the areas of autism, Asperger’s disorder, and schizophrenia, some of which are listed below. Peter is currently funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) training fellowship (2009-2012), and holds research grants from the NHMRC and NARSAD (US).
Selected papers:
Enticott, P.G., Kennedy, H.A., Zangen, A., & Fitzgerald, P.B. (in press). Deep repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) associated with improved social functioning in a young woman with an autism spectrum disorder. The Journal of ECT.
Enticott, P.G., Rinehart, N.J., Tonge, B.J., Bradshaw, J.L., & Fitzgerald, P.B. (2010). A preliminary transcranial magnetic stimulation study of cortical inhibition and excitability in high-functioning autism and Asperger’s disorder. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 52(8), e179-e183.
Enticott, P.G., Kennedy, H.A., Bradshaw, J.L., Rinehart, N.J., & Fitzgerald, P.B. (2010). Understanding mirror neurons: Evidence for enhanced corticospinal excitability during the observation of transitive but not intransitive hand gestures. Neuropsychologia, 48(9), 2675-2680.
Enticott, P.G., Hoy, K.E., Herring, S.E., Johnston, P.J., Daskalakis, Z.J., & Fitzgerald, P.B. (2008). Reduced motor facilitation during action observation in schizophrenia: A mirror neuron deficit? Schizophrenia Research, 102(1-3), 116-121.


Professor Paul Fitzgerald

Professor Paul Fitzgerald is Deputy Director of MAPrc, Professor of Psychiatry, and Consultant Psychiatrist at Alfred Psychiatry. He is a qualified psychiatrist, has a Masters of Psychological Medicine and research PhD.

Professor Fitzgerald runs a substantive research program utilising brain stimulation and neuroimaging techniques including transcranial magnetic stimulation, functional and structural MRI, EEG and near infrared spectroscopy. The program has focussed on the conduct of investigative studies of brain function/dysfunction in disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse and autism. In addition, he conducts clinical trials of novel brain stimulation techniques in these disorders. He has conducted a number of large scale trials of transcranial magnetic stimulation and is also involved in trials of transcranial direct current stimulation, deep brain stimulation and magnetic seizure therapy.

Professor Fitzgerald has published over 170 papers in a range of peer reviewed journals. He has received project grant funding from the NHMRC, ARC as well as a number of US based and local funding organisations. He is supported by a NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship award.

Professor Fitzgerald was an elected board Member of the International Society for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (ISTS) and was an invited member of the World Federation of Biological Psychiatry Taskforce on Brain Stimulation (2006-2009). He is Psychiatric deputy editor for the journal ‘Brain Stimulation’ and is on the Editorial Boards of ‘Psychiatry Research’ and the ‘Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry’. He was awarded a National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Award in 2003 and 2005 and the Australian Society for Psychiatric Research, Organon Award in 2003.

Paul Fitzgerald
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