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Characterizing prediction in autism spectrum disorders




9: Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Faculty Supervisor:

Pawan Sinha

Faculty email:


Apply by:

Rolling Basis - We will review applications as received



Project Description

When you tap your foot to music, your brain is doing two remarkable things. First, it is integrating information across time to infer the rhythmic structure of the auditory stream and second, it is choreographing the activity of several muscles in advance so that your foot moves precisely in time with the beats. You don’t have to wait for the beat, you anticipate it after hearing a bit of the audio sequence. The goal of this project is to systematically study this phenomenon of ‘entrainment’ using auditory sequences of different kinds while recording behavioral responses from human research participants with and without autism spectrum disorder. This will give us rich quantitative data regarding behavioral response to stimuli with varying degrees of predictability. This study will not only help us better understand temporal integration and prediction in neurotypical individuals, but also have bearing on conditions like autism that are associated with challenges in processing sequences and other kinds of dynamic information. The UROP will contribute to design, programming, and data management of experiments using PsychoPy (a Python and Javascript based experiment builder with user interface). Depending on the timeline of the project, there may also be opportunities for conducting data analysis using MATLAB or Python. The student will join an interdisciplinary team that holds regular meetings and have substantial opportunity to work independently. Due to COVID-19, the UROP will perform all work remotely. This position is available for credit (tuition is waived for summer 2020 UROPs for credit) or on a volunteer basis. We cannot guarantee a paid position, however, a very limited number of direct funded (paid) opportunities may be available through the UROP office. If you would like to pursue direct funding, please see the UROP Summer 2020 deadlines and guidelines pages for more info: https://urop.mit.edu/research-exploration/urop/apply/application-deadlines/summer-2020


The ideal candidate will have previous experience in Javascript and strong analytical skills. Experience in Python or MATLAB also a plus. Must be able to commit a minimum of 8-10 hours per week throughout the entire semester. Some background in computer science, engineering, brain and cognitive sciences, or related field is desired. Application and Deadlines: The deadline to apply through the UROP office is listed on the UROP deadlines page. We recommend that you contact us as soon as possible if you wish to apply. We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis starting now until the position is filled. Visit the UROP website for details about UROP requirements: http://uaap.mit.edu/research-exploration/urop/guidelines To apply, please e-mail Jon Cannon, Postdoctoral Associate at jcan@mit.edu , and include your Resume/CV and a cover letter describing your interest in and qualifications for the project. Please specify whether you would like to do the UROP for credit, volunteer, or for pay (very limited direct funded slots available). If you are selected, you will need to create a project proposal for review by a member of our research team several days in advance of the UROP office deadline. There is a very limited amount of direct funding for summer 2020, so funding is not guaranteed. Tuition is waived for MIT students who wish to do a UROP for credit in summer 2020.