Virtual Reality Social Cognition Training for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders


The purpose of this study is to predict and explain on the basis of brain function and structure the behavioral and brain effects of an evidence-based intervention for adults with high-functioning autism, Virtual Reality-Social Cognition Training (Kandalaft et al., 2012; Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders). Adults with autism will be randomly assigned to receive either (a) two hours per week of intervention services for five weeks, or (b) a treatment as usual control. The intervention will focus on enhancing social skills, social cognition, and social functioning. Outcome measures will evaluate changes in these social skills, cognition, and functioning using standardized assessments. We will perform structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at three time points-before, during, and after treatment (i.e., Time Point #1, 2, and 3).

Study Start Date

January 2013

Estimated Completion Date

June 2017


  • Behavioral: Virtual Reality Social Cognition Training


  • Internal Medicine: Psychiatry
  • Psychiatry: Child/Adolescent Psych
  • Family Medicine: Psychiatry

MeSH Terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Child Development Disorders

Study ID

Yale University -- 1211011083



Trial ID


Study Type


Trial Phase


Enrollment Quota



Yale University

Inclusion Criteria

    1. Adults: 1. Age: 18-40, inclusive 2. A male or female outpatient 2. High-functioning (so that the treatment can effectively benefit the subjects): 1. Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of WASI at least 70 2. Able to give informed consent prior to initiation of any protocol required procedures 3. Autism Spectrum Disorder: 1. Having a current primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger's Disorder) from a licensed psychologist/psychiatrist or from a school diagnostician, as defined by the DSM-IV criteria. 2. For this project, diagnosis will not be determined by our assessment. The participants we enroll will already carry a current primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This verification of their diagnosis may also come from study personnel who have seen and/or treated the patient prior to his or her involvement in the project and can verbally confirm that they carry the proper diagnosis. 4. Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) must be at least 4-5 words (the intervention method requires this)

Exclusion Criteria

    1. Speech-language criteria: 1. Those who are not fluent in written and oral English will not be eligible to participate, as many of the instruments are not validated in other languages. 2. Significant hearing loss or other severe sensory impairment 3. Inability to read self-report instruments 2. Health criteria: 1. Those whose clinical status (e.g., serious suicidal or homicidal risk) requires inpatient or day hospital treatment 2. Those with a history of seizures, or current use of anticonvulsants 3. A fragile health status 4. A history of significant head trauma or serious brain or psychiatric illness 5. Having any other current psychiatric condition or complications, such as i. Diagnosed with substance dependence within the last three months. ii. Current use of prescription medications that may affect cognitive processes under study. iii. Current primary diagnosis of bipolar disorder I or II iv. Axis I psychopathology v. Depression 3. Any metal or electromagnetic implants, including: 1. Cardiac pacemaker 2. Defibrillator 3. Artificial heart valve 4. Aneurysm clip 5. Cochlear implants 6. Shrapnel 7. Neurostimulators 8. History of metal fragments in eyes or skin




18 Years to 40 Years

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Study Locations and Contact Information (1)

Study Location Distance Name Phone Email
Yale University - New Haven, Connecticut 18.1 miles Erin MacDonnell 203-737-3439 provides clinical trial listings in an easy to view format. All clinical trial information is pulled directly from This website does not guarantee acceptance into any clinical trial, and is not responsible for adverse events that may be incurred from a clinical trial.