Research Project Long-Term Objective: The long-term objective of this research is to describe the cognitive challenges
associated with aging in adults with ASD to inform interventions and care plans.
Aim 1: Identify the combination of sex-specific functional and structural brain measures in adults with ASD that (a) best
describe age-related cognitive changes compared to matched-NT controls and (b) predict age-related cognitive decline.
Methods: We will use multi-modal partial least squared analysis to elucidate information linkage between complementary
neuroimaging data sets. Research Design: We will analyze both cross-sectional data of young-adult (n=100) vs. middle-aged (n=120) ASD and NT groups, and longitudinal data of middle-aged adults in two year increments (n=120
participants; 360 data sets). Men and women will be similarly represented in groups (M:F ratio, 1.0 : 0.7).
Aim 2: Identify the combination of behavioral measures in adults with ASD that best predict age-related cognitive
decline. Methods: We will use multi-task learning to determine the linkage between complementary behavioral data sets.
Research Design: We will analyze cross-sectional and longitudinal data from Aim 1 ASD participants.
Health Relatedness: These aims will have a substantial positive impact on health care quality and costs in the ASD
community by vertically advancing our understanding of the unique cognitive and brain aging process, and laying the
groundwork for delivering effective, precision medicine care to the growing and vulnerable population of older adults
Candidate Career Goals: Dr. Braden's long-term goal is to become a leading researcher in the neurobiology of aging in
ASD through a multi-disciplinary program from basic science to translational treatment. Her short-term goals are to: 1)
comprehensively describe age-related cognitive and brain changes in adults with ASD, and 2) identify targets for
behavioral and neurobiological interventions and care plans tailored to specific cognitive needs of older adults with ASD.
Career Development Plan: Building on her strong foundation in multi-disciplinary cognitive aging neuroscience, Dr.
Braden will have intensive training in: 1) advanced neuroimaging analytics, 2) ASD phenotyping and interventions, and
3) professional and programmatic development for leading a funded multi-disciplinary research effort.
Environment: Each training aim has an expert mentor across three local institutions with abundant academic overlap. Dr.
Braden's home institution, Arizona State University, is one of the fastest growing research enterprise among all U.S.
universities, and specializes in the neuroscience of cognitive and brain aging. She will also receive training at the Banner
Alzheimer's Institute, an internationally recognized research and patient care program, and the Southwest Autism
Research and Resource Center, an ASD community-based center of excellence.