35th Carnegie Symposium on Cognition


October 17 – 18, 2008

Marcel Just and Kevin Pelphrey, Organizers


Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


“Our understanding of autism has changed enormously in the past 10 years, and
many of the changes, new theories, and emerging areas of research
will be discussed at the 2008 Carnegie Symposium on Cognition

 by presenters who have helped generate this new knowledge.”


Investigating the Puzzle of Autism through the Study of…

• New Theories of Autism •

• Brain Function in Autism •

• Real-World Issues of People with Autism •

• Psychological Development and Neurodevelopment in Autism •







Friday, October 17, 2008

8:45      Continental Breakfast

9:15      Welcome and Overview
(Marcel Just and Kevin Pelphrey, Organizers)

9:30      How People with Autism Think
Temple Grandin, Colorado State University)

10:25    Hans Asperger’s Patients Growing Up:
A Follow-Up Study 15 – 51 Years Post-Referral

(Kathrin Hippler, University for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine,

11:20    Autism Genetics: Connecting Genes to Brain and Cognition
(Daniel Geschwind,
University of California, Los Angeles)

12:15    Lunch

1:30      Systems Underconnectivity in the Autistic Brain:
Brain Function, Anatomy, and Cognition

(Marcel Just and Diane Williams,
Carnegie Mellon University)

2:25      Effective Connectivity and Levels of Emotional Processing in Autism
(Bruno Wicker, University of Buenos Aires)

3:20      Break

3:35      Converging Imaging Evidence for the Role of the Temporal Lobes in the Pathobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders
(Robert Schultz, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

4:30      Reward Systems in Autism:
A Mechanism for Social Learning Deficit?

(Susan Bookheimer, University of California, Los Angeles)

5:25      Discussion

Saturday, October 18, 2008

9:00      Continental Breakfast

9:30      What do Early Behavioral Signs of Autism Tell Us About Core Mechanisms?
(Susan Bryson,
Dalhousie University)

10:25    A Cognitive Developmental Approach to Autism:
Understanding of Categorical Knowledge and Facial Information

(Mark Strauss,
University of Pittsburgh)

11:20    Studies of Social Engagement in the First Two Years of Life
in Autism Spectrum Disorders

(Ami Klin, Yale University)

12:15    Lunch

1:30      Brain Mechanisms in the Typical and Atypical Development of Social Cognition
(Kevin Pelphrey,
Yale University)

2:25      Localizing Actions and the Self in the Brain: Lessons from Autism
(Rajesh Kana, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Laura Klinger, and Mark Klinger, University of Alabama)

3:20      Break

3:35      Organizing Principles for Future Research in Autism:
Where Do We Go from Here?

(Nancy Minshew, University of Pittsburgh)

4:30      Closing Discussion








Dr. Susan Bookheimer’s work focuses on language and memory in healthy adults and children, and in individuals with developmental disorders, particularly autism. She is Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.


Dr. Susan Bryson works on early identification and treatment of autism; attention and emotion in autism; and the well-being of adolescents and children with autism. She is the Joan and Jack Craig Chair in Autism Research at Dalhousie.


Dr. Daniel Geschwind studies autism and language; focal neurodegenerative syndromes; and the structural/molecular basis of human cognitive specializations. He is the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Human Genetics at UCLA.

Dr. Temple Grandin is one of the most prominent spokespeople for autism, often speaking from her own experience. In books, lectures, and interviews, she explains her thought processes and professional work designing animal facilities. She is Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State.


Dr. Kathrin Hippler is a clinical researcher who has studied Hans Asperger’s original autistic patients and how their lives differ, socially and professionally, from the lives of control subjects. She is University Assistant at the University Clinic.


Dr. Marcel Just uses brain imaging and computational modeling to analyze brain and mind in autism, focusing on cortical underconnectivity in autism. He is the D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

Dr. Rajesh Kana’s research uses neuroimaging to explore the neural substrates of social cognition and the impact of social cognition on language, communication, and other cognitive functions. He is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Dr. Ami Klin’s research investigates the social mind and the social brain, and aspects of autism from infancy through adulthood. He is the Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale.


Dr. Laura Klinger’s research and clinical interests are in the field of developmental psychopathology, particularly in attention, memory, and learning abilities of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama.


Dr. Mark Klinger specializes in unconscious aspects of cognition, examining attention, learning, and memory abilities of children with ASD. He is currently involved in fMRI studies examining the neural bases of implicit learning and self-concept in people with ASD. He is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama.


Dr. Nancy J. Minshew has developed research focused on autism as a distributed neocortical systems disorder that results in a broad constellation of cognitive and neurologic impairments. She is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Kevin Pelphrey’s research focuses on using neuroimaging and behavioral techniques to study the neurodevelopment of brain mechanisms underlying cognitive, perceptual, and social functioning in autism. He is the Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale.


Dr. Robert Schultz uses neuroimaging to measure brain structure and function to reveal the underlying neural systems causing ASD. He is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Regional Autism Center Endowed Chair.


Dr. Mark S. Strauss focuses on the early development of perceptual and cognitive abilities in infants at risk and children with autism. He studies how children learn basic information about categories and faces during their infancy and preschool years. He is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.


Dr. Bruno Wicker uses imaging methods to investigate effective connectivity and emotional processing in persons with autism. He is a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences in Marseilles and is currently the Director of the Social Cognition Group at the University of Buenos Aires.


Dr. Diane Williams studies language and cognitive processing in high-functioning children, adolescents, and adults with autism. She aims to translate research findings to more-effective interventions for people with autism. She is Assistant Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at Duquesne.






Admission to this event is free and open to everyone interested.
Symposium sessions will be held in:

The Adamson Wing, Baker Hall 136A (on Frew Street)




Assistance is available for early-career scientists/trainees and junior faculty members whose research focuses on autism. Fellowships are intended to assist with travel and lodging expenses incurred while attending the 2008 Symposium. Minority candidates are especially encouraged to apply. Interested applicants should email a brief statement of interest, curriculum vitae, and arrange for one letter of recommendation by September 22, 2008 to:



Click HERE for a .pdf version of the Brochure