27 September – 1 October, 2023, 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research

New Orleans, LA, United States of America

Dr. Vardan Arutiunian presented a poster about the current findings on the neural markers of language variability of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their unaffected siblings (US). 

The results of the study showed that gamma-band neural activity in EEG (a measure of the excitation (E) / inhibition (I) balance) is elevated in youth with ASD in response to speech stimuli, suggesting higher E over I activity. Moreover, this increase of gamma power was related to lower language skills measured in clinical assessment. Finally, the US group demonstrated an intermediate profile in both language and gamma power, with nonverbal IQ mediating the relationship between gamma power and language skills.

New paper!

Dr. Vardan Arutiunian and colleagues published a paper in Brain Structure and Function. The results of their study revealed that the grey matter volume of amygdala and hippocampus (subcortical structures that are involved in core functions in 'social brain') is reduced in school-aged children with ASD. Moreover, this reduction had a clinical consequence, so as the lower volume was associated with the lower language skills and higher autistic traits (but not with non-verbal IQ).

Although children with ASD had these abnormalities of subcortical regions, the patterns of asymmetry were similar to the group of typically developing controls: the volume of amygdala did not differ between hemisphere whereas the volume of the right hippocampus was larger then the volume of the left one in both groups of children.

28 – 30 April, 2023, 11th International Conference 'Autism. Challenges and Solutions'

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Dr. Vardan Arutiunian gave a talk about the results of the current study on the polymorphism of the CNTNAP2 gene (SNP rs2710102) and language skills in school-aged children with ASD. 

The results of the study revealed that children carrying the A-allele had lower language skills in comparison to the G-allele homozygotes.

Remarkably, the polymorphism of the CNTNAP2 gene was related to structural language skills but not to more general verbal communicative abilities of children with ASD. 

9 – 11 March, 2023, Meeting on Language in Autism

Duke University, Durham, NC, United States of America

Dr. Vardan Arutiunian presented a poster about the current findings on language abilities of unaffected siblings (US) of children with ASD. 

The results of the study showed that, although all US participants were within the normal range according to standardized language testing, their language skills were significantly lower in comparison to typically developing controls but higher when comparing to ASD individuals.

New paper!

Dr. Vardan Arutiunian and colleagues published a paper in Nature - Scientific Reports. Using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the present study provided the whole-brain comparison of both volume- and surface-based characteristics between groups of children with and without ASD and investigated the relationships between these characteristics in language-related areas and the language abilities of children with ASD measured with standardized tools. The results revealed that multiple regions differed between groups of children in grey matter volume, grey matter thickness, gyrification, and cortical complexity (fractal dimension). Importantly, gray matter thickness and gyrification of languageā€related areas were best predicted language functioning in children with ASD.

See: https://www.psypost.org/2023/05/new-study-identifies-structural-brain-differences-in-children-with-autism-that-are-linked-to-language-impairment-163256

New paper!

Dr. Vardan Arutiunian and colleagues published a paper in Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. The study addressed the atypical low-level sensory perception in the auditory cortex of children with ASD and its relation to language functioning. Using ultramodern neuroimaging technique, such as magnetoencephalography (MEG), the study focused on one of the potential non-invasive measures of such low-level perception, i.e., cortical gamma-band oscillations that are related to the balance between neural excitation and inhibition. 40 Hz Auditory Steady-State Response (40 Hz ASSR) was used as one of the reliable paradigms for eliciting auditory gamma response.

The results demonstrated that 40 Hz ASSR was reduced in the right auditory cortex in children with ASD when comparing them to typically developing controls. Importantly, the study provided the first evidence of the association between 40 Hz ASSR in the language-dominant left auditory cortex and language comprehension in children with ASD. This link was domain-specific because the other behavioral measures (nonverbal IQ and the severity of autistic traits) were not related to that brain response.

30 June, 2022, PhD thesis defense

Center for Language and Brain, Moscow, Russia

Vardan Arutiunian, a Junior Research Fellow at the Center for Language and Brain, defended his PhD thesis on the topic 'Language Impairment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Linguistic Aspects'.

Members of the committee for the defense decided to recommend the Dissertation Council in Philology and Linguistics to award him the PhD degree with cum laude.

New paper!

Vardan Arutiunian and colleagues published a paper in Human Brain MappingUsing magnetoencephalography (MEG), the study addressed the age-related changes of cortical gamma-band neural activity in the auditory cortex of children. The results demonstrated that the power of gamma oscillations in the auditory cortex changed with age: the power was higher in older children than in younger ones. In addition, the researchers have shown for the first time that the cortical localization of this activity can also change with age: in older children, the source was located more posterior in the primary auditory cortex than in younger ones.

See: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220801/Ultra-precise-method-identifies-age-related-changes-in-gamma-oscillations-in-childrens-auditory-cortex.aspx

23 – 25 April, 2022, 10th International Conference on Autism

Moscow, Russia

From 23 to 25 of April, Moscow hosted the 10th International Conference on Autism (2022) which is the most prominent conference on autism research in Russian Federation. It was focused on psychological, pedagogical, medical, genetic and neurobiological aspects of autism. 

Vardan Arutiunian presented the results of his study and gave a talk 'The structural brain abnormalities and their association with language impairment in children with ASD'. The study revealed the multiple structural brain alterations in children with ASD and their relationship with language skills of these children. 

New papers!

Vardan Arutiunian and colleagues published two papers in Research in Developmental Disabilities and Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Both of them addressed language profiles and variability of language skills of Russian-speaking primary-school-aged children with ASD. The study explored for the first time the language abilities of Russian children with ASD at four linguistic levels (phonology, vocabulary, morphosyntax, and discourse) in both production and comprehension, using standardized language assessment tool. Moreover, it showed how non-language factors (non-verbal IQ, the severity of autistic traits, and children's age) were related to language abilities of ASD individuals.   

28 June – 6 July, 2019, Internship

MEG and Neurophysiology Lab, San Camillo Hospital, Venice, Italy

Vardan Arutiunian did an internship on MEG data processing at San Camillo Hospital in Venice. He successfully learned both a basic pre-processing of MEG data and advanced analysis with source estimation. The study was under Dr. Giorgio Arcara supervision.

During the internship Vardan Arutiunian and Dr. Giorgio Arcara established the international collaboration between Russia and Italy and planned a research program for further MEG study of language impairment in children with ASD.

1 – 4 May, 2019, International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting

Montreal, Canada

International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting is the annual international congress which focuses on the contemporary research of the neurobiology, molecular genetics, and psychology of autism. 

Vardan Arutiunian attended at the panel sessions and workshops as well as participated in the special interest group on the problems of including low-functioning children with autism in neuroscience research.

16 – 19 January, 2019, 28 ANT Neuromeeting

Beaune, France

The ANT Neuromeeting is a multi-disciplinary platform for scientific discussions of brain research, diagnostics and treatment with the main goal to bring scientists and clinicians together, enabling them to interact and get inspiration for new developments in their respective fields. 

Vardan Arutiunian attended at the 'Quantitative EEG' workshop which was dedicated to recording, processing and analyzing electroencephalographic (EEG) data.

4 – 5 October, 2018, Asia-Pacific Babylab Constellation Conference


Vardan Arutiunian participated at the first Asia-Pacific Babylab Constellation Conference at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The conference was focused on early language development in typically and atypically developing infants.

Vardan Arutiunian presented the results of this study 'The influence of phonological neighborhood density on spoken-word comprehension in Russian children: Evidence from eye-tracking'. The presentation discusses experimental data on how phonological neighborhood density influences word recognition in Russian-speaking children and adults.

11 – 15 June, 2018, summer school for Infant Studies On Language Development in Europe

Potsdam, Germany

Vardan Arutiunian took part in the International summer school for Infant Studies On Language Development in Europe, which was held from 11 to 15 June at the University of Potsdam in Germany. He visited the BabyLab at the University of Potsdam and presented the results of his current research on how phonological neighborhood density influences word production in 4-to-6-year-old Russian-speaking children.