Projects Archive - Foundation for Prader-Willi Research | Behavior

Under the guidance of our Scientific Advisory Board through a carefully managed grants process, FPWR selects research projects based on the collaborative input of researchers and parents, choosing projects that are both scientifically meritorious and highly relevant for individuals with PWS and their families.

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Improving social functioning in Prader-willi syndrome (year 2)

Funded Year: 2018

Social isolation and impaired social cognition underpins loneliness, depression and anxiety, contributes to poor health and reduced longevity. They also are associated with such cognitive consequences as impaired executive functioning, cognitive decline, a bias towards negative, depressive thinking, and oversensitivity to perceived social false

ComuFaces: The perception of communicative faces by infants with Prader-Willi syndrome (year 2)

Funded Year: 2018

Neuropsychological studies have detailed several cognitive deficits in Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), among which the observation of altered social interactions, with notable difficulty in interpreting and responding to social information. The integration of the information from the face and the voice is important for our social communication as false

Comufaces: The Perception of Communicative Faces by Infants with PWS (Year 2)

Funded Year: 2018

Neuropsychological studies have detailed several cognitive deficits in Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), among which the observation of altered social interactions, with notable difficulty in interpreting and responding to social information. The integration of the information from the face and the voice is important for our social communication as false

Systematic Investigation of Early Social Cognitive Processes and the Feasibility of Intervention

Funded Year: 2017

For Year 1, our project aims were: 1) to characterize the social, cognitive, and affective processes in preschoolers with PWS (by genetic subtype), in comparison to preschoolers with ASD and typically developing children, and 2) to pilot a remotely delivered parent education program to determine if it would be feasible and effective for families false

Neural mechanisms of oxytocin-enhanced infant feeding and social behavior development

Funded Year: 2017

This project uses infant mice to understand the mechanism of a promising treatment for PWS. Oxytocin (OXT) regulates feeding and social behavior. In mouse research and recent clinical trials with infants and young children, OXT seems to improve the core feeding and social behavior disturbances of PWS. In humans, OXT is effective when it is given false

A mindfulness-based intervention for temper outbursts in Prader–Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2017

Temper outbursts are one of the most commonly reported behavior problems of children, adolescents and adults with PWS. Outbursts cause increased stress for families and costs for the community. Despite this, there is currently no known treatment. Meditation on the Soles of the Feet (SoF) is a mindfulness-based intervention designed specifically to false

Evaluating factors that may affect the efficacy of intranasal oxytocin treatment in PWS

Funded Year: 2017

Recent studies with oxytocin treatment in PWS have yielded inconsistent results. Intranasal administration of oxytocin by the Toulouse group decreased disruptive behaviors in patients with PWS, but a recent randomized trial in Australia of adolescents and adults of intranasal oxytocin (IN-OT) found no effect on syndrome-specific behavior in false

Proof of concept study of vagus nerve stimulation from an external device in PWS (year 2)

Funded Year: 2017

The hypothesis set out in our original application is that t-VNS given over time and following a protocol established for its use in epilepsy, will prevent the prolonged and debilitating temper outbursts and associated emotional dysregulation that characteristically affect people with PWS. We further propose that any improvements in behavior are false

Wake promoting effects of oxytocin

Funded Year: 2016

Caregivers, physicians and patients with PWS report that daytime sleepiness in PWS significantly disrupts daily life. However, the underlying cause of excessive daytime sleepiness in PWS is unknown. Dr. Scammell’s group is exploring the contribution of reduced neuronal function in the hypothalamus region of the brain, specifically, oxytocin/orexin false

Improving social functioning in Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2016

People with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), are at heightened risk for social exclusion and isolation. This underpins loneliness, depression and anxiety, contributes to poor health and reduced longevity. This project will recruit 50 young adults with PWS into an intensive, 10-week group false

Ghrelin: Is it detrimental, beneficial, or inconsequential in Prader-Willi Syndrome? (year 2)

Funded Year: 2016

Ghrelin levels are elevated in PWS, but why, how, and whether it plays a role in hyperphagia or other aspects of PWS are all still unanswered questions. This project will explore if ghrelin plays a protective role in PWS with regards growth hormone deficiency, hypoglycemia and mental health issues, but a detrimental role with regards to extreme false

The MAGEL2 phenotype in comparison to classic Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2016

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetically and clinically complex disorder. From a molecular standpoint, a major question has been the contribution of individual genes within the Prader-Willi domain on chromosome 15 to the overall clinical phenotype. Many animal models have attempted to address this question, but have not been able to fully false

A post-mortem study of von Economo neurons in the frontal cortex of brains of persons with PWS

Funded Year: 2016

Although PWS is best known for hypothalamic obesity and hyperphagia, the cognitive and behavioral issues are the most challenging for families. Brain difference is the underpinning of the characteristics that define the Prader-Willi personality: food related behaviors, excessive/repetitive behaviors, stress sensitivity/mood disorder, cognitive false

Plastic TASTER: a switching training game for people with PWS that adapts to individual needs (year 2)

Funded Year: 2016

Task switching is a cognitive process important for regulating behaviour. People with PWS generally show impaired switching and this difficulty is linked to people resisting change and showing temper outbursts triggered by changes.

Predictors of psychosis in Prader Willi Syndrome

Funded Year: 2016

There is increasing evidence that Prader-Willi Syndrome is associated with high rates of psychosis, a serious mental disorder that profoundly disrupts thought and emotion. However, little is known about the early or ‘prodromal’ phase of illness and the risk factors that predict the emergence of psychosis in PWS patients. This is a critical gap in false

Oxytocin treatment in Magel2-defcient mice (year 2)

Funded Year: 2016

The MAGEL2 gene appears as one of the main genes involved in feeding and behavioral (autistic like behavior) alterations observed in Prader-Willi Syndrome. We showed that, in mouse, the deficiency of Magel2 results in a phenotype similar to the clinical description of patients with mutations in MAGEL2. Indeed, we showed that Magel2-deficient mice false

Evaluating the Parent-focused Remote Education To Enhance Development (PRETEND) Program in PWS

Funded Year: 2015

This project centers on better understanding the social-cognitive characteristics of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) in early childhood and providing education and training to parents of children with PWS to optimize learning and joint engagement between parent and child. There are two goals of this research:

Proof of concept study of vagus nerve stimulation from an external device In Prader Willi Syndrome

Funded Year: 2015

This proposed proof of concept study follows an earlier trial of vagus nerve stimulation, using a surgically implanted medical device, in three people with PWS to investigate whether such treatment might reduce the over-eating behaviour characteristic of people with PWS. Whilst the effects on eating were equivocal, two of the three participants, false

Oxytocin and the autonomic nervous system in Prader Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2015

Study one: There is a reduction in the number of neurons that produce oxytocin in people with PWS. This, along with a range of other evidence supports the likelihood that abnormalities in the oxytocin system are key to the problems of PWS. However, studies examining the levels of oxytocin in PWS as well as clinical trials evaluating the effect false

ComuFaces: The perception of communicative faces by infants with Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2015

Paying attention to communicative faces is essential for our understanding of the social world. Indeed, faces provide observers rich and complex information about the identity (gender, age, etc), the socio-emotional state (eye-brows movements, eye-gaze) and the linguistic message (auditory speech sounds/mouth movements) of our social partners. The false

Ghrelin: Is it detrimental, beneficial, or inconsequential in Prader-Willi Syndrome?

Funded Year: 2015

Plasma levels of the peptide hormone ghrelin are markedly elevated in individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), however the functional consequences of this elevation have not yet been determined, nor are the mechanistic causes of ghrelin elevation known. Many attribute the characteristic, maladaptive PWS eating behaviors directly to ghrelin, false

Training task switching to decrease temper outbursts in people with PWS

Funded Year: 2014

Temper outbursts are commonly shown by people with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and can cause great problems for people with the syndrome, their family members and caregivers. One common reason for temper outbursts is that people with PWS find changes to routines or to plans very difficult. This difficulty with change is linked to impairment in a false

Evaluation of autism-like behaviors in mice deficient for Magel2

Funded Year: 2014

MAGEL2 is one of five genes in the Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) critical domain on chromosome 15 that encodes a protein. Our group recently described a group of patients with mutations of MAGEL2 causing Prader-Willi features and autism. Autism spectrum disorder is seen in up to one third of individuals with PWS, and in all individuals with MAGEL2 false

How does oxytocin cure early feeding and adult social behavior alterations in Magel2 deficient mice, a model for the PWS?

Funded Year: 2014

The MAGEL2 gene appears as one of the main genes involved in feeding and behavioral (autistic like behavior) alterations observed in Prader-Willi Syndrome. We showed that, in mouse, the deficiency of Magel2 results in a phenotype similar to the clinical description of patients with mutations in MAGEL2. Indeed, we showed that Magel2-deficient mice false

Comprehensive behavioral informatics approach to CNS function in PWS mouse models

Funded Year: 2014

The identification of genetic loci conferring susceptibility to Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) provides valuable opportunities for understanding its biological basis. A powerful approach for probing the roles of genes within the nervous system is to introduce them into mice. The resulting mouse models may be studied in depth to determine how genes false

Unraveling the developmental neurobiology of PWS: a cross-sectional brain-imaging study (year 2)

Funded Year: 2014

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a rare disorder, sharing common genes with autism and schizophrenia; patients with PWS are at a high risk of developing psychiatric illnesses and behavioral problems, however, the underlying neurobiology that places them at-risk is yet unknown. Here we propose a cross-sectional, multi-faceted brain imaging study in false

A Dose Titration Study of Diazoxide Choline Controlled-Release Tablet (DCCR) in Patients with Prader-Willi syndrome with a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Withdrawal Extension

Funded Year: 2014

Once Prader-Willi patients reach the stage where hyperphagia is a dominant characteristic of the disease, the progression to obesity, morbid obesity and diabetes and their complications reduces the quality of life of the patient and increases their risk of death from a number of causes. The constant food seeking and food obsession combined with false

Oxytocin vs. placebo for the treatment of hyperphagia in Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2013

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by lack of inherited genes from fathers on chromosome 15. PWS is characterized by intellectual disabilities, repetitive and compulsive behaviors, social cognition deficits, increased eating and obesity. These individuals typically consume up to three times the normal caloric false

Neurobiology of temper outburst behaviours in Prader-Willi syndrome - imaging pilot study

Funded Year: 2013

Individuals with Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS) are known to display frequent and severe temper outburst behaviours throughout their life. These behaviours can have a significant impact on the quality of life for the individual and their family. Prader Willi outbursts are reactive explosion of emotion that once provoked the individual has little false

Early to midterm oxytocin effects on the brain metabolism of adults with Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2012

Prader-Willi  syndrome  (PWS)  is  a  rare  multisystem  genetic  disease  leading  to  severe disabilities such as morbid obesity, as well as behavioral and socialization problems. We are greatly lacking in information on the natural history of this complex disease and the factors involved in its progression and outcome. Early diagnosis and a false

Environmental, physiological and neural bases of skin picking in Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2011

Many people with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) frequently engage in severe skin picking behavior, often causing open wounds and sores that can become infected. Why do people with PWS do this? How often and under what circumstances does it occur? Are people with PWS more likely to exhibit skin picking when they are bored or anxious? Does the skin false

Evaluation of sensory processing in individuals with PWS

Funded Year: 2009

Individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) have been described by parents and clinicians as having difficulty with regulation of sensory stimuli from the environment. It is suspected that this problem may be related to other symptoms of PWS such as poor satiety recognition, decreased sensitivity to pain, tendency to self-injure and sleep issues. false

The effect of growth hormone replacement therapy on physical and behavioral sexual development in persons with PWS

Funded Year: 2009

This study examines the effect of growth hormone replacement therapy (GHRT) on physical and behavioral sexual maturation in males and females with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Previously, sexual maturity among affected individuals has been largely ignored due in part to the assumed universality of underdeveloped/immature genitals, lack of sex false

The effect of growth hormone replacement therapy on physical and behavioral sexual development in persons with PWS

Funded Year: 2009

This is Year 2 of a study to examine the effect of growth hormone replacement therapy (GHRT) on physical and behavioral sexual maturation in males and females with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Previously, sexual maturity among affected individuals has been largely ignored due in part to the assumed universality of underdeveloped/immature genitals, false

Behavioral treatment of obsessive-compulsive symptoms

Funded Year: 2009

Obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms are often present among youth with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). They are also associated with considerable problems in the daily functioning of the child and his/her family. Although medication and behavioral treatments exist that target OC symptoms among youth without PWS, these treatments have not been false

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