Dr Jennifer Cook is part of a research team which has been awarded £70,000 from the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund to investigate learning and reward processes in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Recent theories suggest that reward learning atypicalities may lie at the root of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). However, relevant empirical evidence remains scarce, especially concerning very young individuals and those who have additional intellectual impairments. In a series of studies the team will develop a set of computer games which assess reward learning via touch-screen and eye-tracking technology. Critically, because these games will not depend on good language skills, they will enable the researchers to look at reward learning processes in individuals with ASD who cannot express themselves through language. The work will build foundations for a fuller understanding of the aetiology of ASD and directly inform interventions that promote learning through rewards.

Other members of the research team are Dr Sebastian Gaigg (Principal Investigator) (City University London, Autism Research Group), Dr Eduardo Alonso (City University London, Department of Computer Science) and Dr Elliot Ludvig (University of Warwick, Department of Psychology).