Updates from the Autism Spectrum – October 2015 Café


Is Autism on the rise, in the US and throughout the world? Maybe. Or is it something we are seeing more often today because medical science is getting better at diagnosing autism, and we are getting better at recognizing its many shades? Very likely. Is there really an epidemic of autism, as some, including a Presidential candidate or two, keep insisting? Probably not. Is there any link between vaccines and autism? NO. None, according to the best and most large-scale studies conducted till date. Is Autism really one disorder? No. It is better to think about autism as a spectrum of neurodevelopment disorders in how human brains work. And as we are discovering, the range of autistic brains is part of a broader spectrum of how diverse human brains are. Perhaps it is our growing awareness of this neurodiversity which is helping us appreciate the number of people on the autism spectrum and pushing our interpretations past the category of “disorder”, as described beautifully in Steve Silberman’s new bestseller Neurotribes.

Join us this October as Fresno State Neuropsychologist Dr. Amanda Mortimer brings us up to date with current scientific understanding of the autism spectrum. She will share how neurobiology and psychology shed light on the mechanisms through which autism manifests itself, its consequences for behavior, and applied behavioral analysis strategies to enable autistic individuals to function in “normal” society which is still struggling to accommodate neurodiversity. An old friend to the Central Valley Café Scientifique, Dr. Mortimer spoke a few years ago about her research on Dementia.

Dr. Mortimer touched on some of these topics when interviewed for the last episode (22 Sep 2015) of our radio show “Science: A Candle In The Dark“. Have a listen to the archived show via the #ScienceCandle podcast. And join us at Peeve’s Pub on October 5th for another informative Café Scientifique. See you there!

When: Monday, 5 October 2015, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and/or share with your friends and family:

8. Updates from the Autism Spectrum – #ScienceCandle


Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 8: Updates from the Autism Spectrum
September 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guests: Dr. Amanda Mortimer

Topic: During last week’s Republican Presidential Primary Debate, medical science made a rare appearance in the nation’s political media discourse, when Jake Tapper raised the question about appropriate schedules for childhood vaccinations. This was triggered by candidate Donald Trump’s reassertion of a new long-discredited link between vaccines and autism. The two actual medical doctors on the panel, Ben Carson and Rand Paul did dismiss the suggestion of such a link. But Trump went on to claim that we are actually facing an epidemic of autism in this country! What do we make of this claim? Is there any semblance of truth to this?

At the next Café Scientifique meeting, on Oct 5th, we will get some Updates from the Autism Spectrum, from my friend and our guest in this episode, Dr. Amanda Mortimer. Dr. Mortimer has a dual PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience from Indiana University. Interface between neuroscience and clinical psychology. She is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is now an Associate Professor of Psychology at Fresno State. She is here with some Updates from the Autism Spectrum.

The Central Valley Café Scientifique will return to Peeve’s Pub on 14 September 2015, for its 9th season. For more information about the Café and announcements about upcoming events, please visit our website, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Precarious Night Life Of An Ancient Primate In A Modern City – September 2015 Café

Portrait of a Slender Loris

Portrait of a Slender Loris, © Kalyan Varma.

Welcome back to another year of science conversations as the Central Valley Café Scientifique opens its 9th season on Monday, September 14th, at Peeve’s Pub.

This month, we will travel to the city of Bangalore in India, with one of our own founding members, Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta, who has recently launched a new project to study one of that city’s tiny nocturnal denizens, the Slender Loris (pictured above). Dr. Kar Gupta studied this species in the wilds of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in southern India for her Ph.D. (in Anthropology from Arizona State University), documenting its social behavior and mating system for the first time. A sabbatical stint in Bangalore several years ago helped her discover that the species also occurs in urban forests! That unlikely realization led her to launch a new participatory research and conservation project involving a range of citizen scientists and stakeholders with an interest in the history of biodiversity in Bangalore’s past, and a commitment to making the “Garden City” re-earn and maintain that title in the future.

Dr. Kar Gupta will talk about how she came to study this unlikely little primate that continues to cling to the dwindling urban forest in Bangalore, and how citizen engagement with nature is crucial to conserving biodiversity. You can learn more about this work on the Urban Slender Loris Project website, read an interview with Dr. Kar Gupta in a recent Guardian article, and hear her discuss the project with Dr. Kelly Hills on Blog Talk Radio:


Check Out Science Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Virtually Speaking Science on BlogTalkRadio

You can also hear her talk about urban ecology in Fresno and Chicago (and Kolkata and Bangalore) on the June podcast of our own radio show, Science: A Candle In The Dark, episode 5.

The Urban Slender Loris Project, as you will hear at the Café next week, is a research and conservation project that depends on public participation. You too might get an opportunity to participate—even from faraway Fresno—soon by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign Dr. Kar Gupta plans to launch in the near future. In the meantime, you can follow the project on tumblr, twitter, and Facebook for updates.

When: Monday, 14 September 2015, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family: