Research Field: Neuroscience
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD, including autism and Asperger’s disorder) are a group of life-long developmental disabilities that severely affect someone’s ability to interact and communicate with others. People with ASD also display significant problems with behaviour, communication, sensory function and motor control. The number of people diagnosed with ASD has increased dramatically over the last decade, with recent estimates suggesting that 1 in 88 children are affected. Despite this, we know little about what is happening in the brain to cause ASD, and accordingly there are no medical treatments available.
Dr. Enticott’s research is concerned with (a) using modern neuroscience techniques to better understand what is happening in the brain to cause ASD, and (b) the development and testing of innovative, world-first medical treatments for ASD. His research involves using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take pictures of the active brain while individuals with ASD observe other people, and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to improve activity within the brain regions that are dedicated to social understanding. It is his hope that this research will enhance our understanding of ASD, lead to better treatments and improve quality of life for people with ASD and their families.
Peter’s work is largely publicly funded and he is dedicated to communicating his findings, both within the scientific and broader community. This has included high-profile media engagement; featuring on television reports for The 7.30 Report and Seven News, radio reporting on Radio National (ABC), newspaper reporting in the Herald-Sun, and several magazine reports in New Scientist magazine.
Peter is also a strong believer in ‘grassroots’ community engagement and he is active in presenting his work to community-based organisations such as, the staff of Alpha Autism, the largest Victorian service provider for adults with autism and the Lions and Rotary clubs of Trafalgar (in Gippsland). He also works with community groups to translate research knowledge to clinical practice: for example, he is currently working with Alpha Autism to develop a research-based staff training package. Every year during Mental
Health Week, Peter participates in community based activities such as public lectures and information booth.