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Judy Flax
Judy Flax
Associate Research Professor
...
(848) 445-1224
(732) 445-1636
LSB 224
145 Bevier Rd. Piscataway, NJ 08854

Biography

My clinical and research interests have focused on the study of language development and related cognitive processes in normal and impaired populations with an emphasis on autism spectrum disorders.  My earlier career as a clinician has greatly influenced and aided my more current research career in allowing me to realistically identify and then carefully define the behavioral characteristics used to develop behavioral biomarkers for autism spectrum disorders as well as oral and written language impairments. Some past research endeavors include defining subtypes of developmental language disorders at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Isabelle Rapin, M.D.).  At the Rutgers Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience in Newark, I investigated the genetic basis of Specific Language Impairment (Paula Tallal, Ph.D., Linda Brzustowicz, M.D.), the integrated study of behavioral, functional, and structural brain development in infants, young children, and children with autism, and identified early predictors of later language and learning problems (April Benasich, Ph.D.). 

Research

New Jersey Language and Autism Genetics Study (NJLAGS) 

NJLAGS is an NIMH and New Jersey Governor's Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism funded study focused on understanding how genes influence the development of autism ( L. Brzustowicz, PI). We use a nuclear and extended family study design to identify phenotypic/genotypic associations. Through a combination of comprehensive behavioral testing, detailed family history information and linkage, association, and next generation sequencing techniques, we are beginning to better understand the genetic underpinnings of autism and related disorders.

Genetic Studies of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum with Motor Speech Disorders
There is a subset of individuals with autism who are either non-verbal, minimally verbal or have speech that is effortful and unintelligible. Their speech patterns, or lack thereof, are similar to individuals without autism who have motor speech planning issues. Using the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) dataset of multiplex families for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), we have developed motor-speech behavioral phenotypes and identified genetic linkage peaks that correspond to family members with and without autism display these speech patterns. We continue to examine genes of interest under the identified linkage peaks with the goal of finding genetic variations that might elucidate this specific subset of behaviors associated with autism.

Genetic Studies of Specific Language Impairment
In collaboration with Christopher Bartlett, Ph.D. from the Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital & The Ohio State University we continue to study the genetic underpinning of Specific Language Impairment (SLI). This study began in 1993 under the direction of Paula Tallal, Ph.D. at the Center of Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience and continues to be active primarily as OSU with consultation and support at Rutgers (L. Brzustowicz, PI). Using a nuclear and extended family model similar to the NJLAGS model described above, the aim is to better understand the influence of genes on language-based learning disabilities.

Assessing Cognition and Language in Non-verbal and Minimally Verbal Children with Autism
The goal of this study is to develop training procedures and an assessment battery to evaluate the cognitive and language processing abilities of children with autism who are non-verbal or minimally verbal. The Infancy Studies Laboratory at the Center of Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers, Newark in collaboration with the Developmental Neurolinguistics Lab at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, have created reliable and informative techniques to facilitate effective assessment and intervention of non-verbal or minimally verbal children with autism.

Publications

Bartlett CW, Hou L, Flax JF, Hare A, Cheong SY, Fermano Z, Zimmerman- Bier B, Cartwright C, Azaro MA, Buyske S, Brzustowicz LM (2014). A genome scan for loci shared by autism spectrum disorder and language impairment. Am J Psychiatry. 2014 Jan 1;171(1):72-81.

Roesler,CP, Flax J, Macroy-Higgins M, Fermano Z, Morgan-Byrne J, Benasich AA. (2013). Sensory desensitization training for successful net application and EEG/ERP acquisition in difficult to test children. Communication Disorders Quarterly, May 2013 34: 184-195.

Bartlett CW, Flax JF, Fermano Z, Hare A, Hou L, Petrill SA, Buyske S, Brzustowicz LM. (2012). Gene x gene interaction in shared etiology of autism and specific language impairment. Biol Psychiatry; 72(8):692-

Bartlett CW, Hou L, Flax JF, Hare A, Cheong SY, Fermano Z, Zimmerman-         Bier B, Cartwright C, Azaro MA, Buyske S, Brzustowicz LM (2014). A         genome scan for loci shared by autism spectrum disorder        and    language impairment. Am J Psychiatry. 2014 Jan 1;171(1):72-81.

Roesler,CP, Flax J, Macroy-Higgins M, Fermano Z, Morgan-Byrne J, Benasich      AA. (2013). Sensory desensitization training for successful net       application and EEG/ERP acquisition in difficult to test children.          Communication Disorders Quarterly, May 2013 34: 184-195.

Bartlett CW, Flax JF, Fermano Z, Hare A, Hou L, Petrill SA, Buyske S,       Brzustowicz LM. (2012). Gene x gene interaction in shared etiology of          autism and specific language impairment. Biol Psychiatry; 72(8):692-

Bartlett CW, Flax JF, Fermano Z, Hare A, Hou L, Petrill SA, Buyske S, Brzustowicz LM. (2012). Gene x gene interaction in  shared etiology of autism and specific language impairment. Biol Psychiatry; 72(8):692-9.

Logan J, Petrill SA, Flax J, Justice LM, Hou L, et al. (2011) Genetic Covariation Underlying Reading, Language and Related Measures in a Sample Selected for Specific Language Impairment. Behav Genet. 41(5), 651-9.

Flax J, Hare A, Azaro M, Vieland V, Brzustowicz, L (2010). Combined linkage and linkage disequilibrium analysis of a motor speech phenotype within families ascertained for autism risk loci. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders: 2 (4):   210-223.

Simmons TR, Flax JF, Azaro MA, Hayter JE, Justice LM, Petrill SA, Bassett AS, Tallal P, Brzustowicz LM, Bartlett, CW (2010).  Increasing genotype-phenotype determinism:   application to bivariate reading/language traits and epistatiic interactions in language-impaired families. Human Heredity, 70(4):232-244.

Ortiz-Mantilla S, Choe M, Flax J. Grant E and Benasich AA (2010). Associations between the size of the amygdala in infancy and language abilities during the preschool years.  Neuroimage, 49, 2791-2799.

Flax J, Realpe-Bonilla T. Roesler C, Choudhury N and Benasich AA (2009). Using early standardized language measures to predict later language and early reading outcomes in children at HIGH RISK for language-learning impairments. Journal of Learning Disabilities,42 (1), 61-75.

Liu WC, Flax J, Guise K, Sukul V, and Benasich AA (2008).  Functional connectivity of the sensori-motor area in naturally sleeping infants. Brain Research, 1223. 42-49.

Wang Z, Fernandez-Seara M, Alsop D, Liu WC, Flax, J, Benasich AA, & Detre J (2008).  Assessment of Functional development in normal infant brain using arterial spin labeled perfusion MRI.  NeuroImage, 39 :973-978.

Roesler C, Paterson S, Flax J, Hahn J, Kovar C, Stashinko E, Jing H, Benasich A (2006). Links between abnormal brain structure and cognition in holoprosencephaly. Pediatric Neurology,35(6):387-94.

 

Jing H, Flax J, Roesler C, Choudhury N, & Benasich AA (2006). Auditory event-related responses in children with semi-lobar holoprosencephaly. Brain & Development, 28, 207-214.

Leevers HJ, Roesler CP, Flax J, BenasichA (2005) The Carter Neurocognitive Assessment for children with severely compromised expressive language and motor skills. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46:3. 287-303.

 Bartlett CW, Flax JF, Logue MW, Smith BJ, Vieland VJ, Tallal,P and Brzustowicz, LM (2004). Examination of potential overlap in autism and language loci on chromosomes 2, 7, and 13 in two independent samples ascertained for specific language impairment.  Human Heredity, 57: 10-20.

Flax J, Realpe-Bonilla T, Hirsch LS, Brzustowicz LM, Bartlett CW, Tallal P (2003). Specific language impairment in families: Evidence for co-occurence with reading impairments. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research,46: 530-543.

Bartlett CW, Flax JF, Logue MW, Vieland VJ, Bassett AS, Tallal P, and Brzustowicz, LM (2002).  A major susceptibility locus for specific language impairment is located on 13q21. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 71:45-55.

TallalP, Hirsch LS, Realpe-Bonilla T, Miller S, Brzustowicz LM, and Flax JF (2001). Familial aggregation in specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language,and Hearing Research, 44: 1172-1182.

Flax J. and Rapin I. (1998). Physician’s office assessment of speech and language deficits in young children. Contemporary Pediatrics,15, (10), 164-174.

Spitz R, Tallal P, Flax J, and Benasich AA (1997). Look Who’s Talking: A prospective study of familial transmission of language impairments. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 40:990-1001.

Dunn M, Flax J, Sliwinsky M, and Aram D (1996). The use of spontaneous language measures as criteria in identifying children with specific language impairment: An attempt to reconcile clinical and research incongruence. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 39(3): 643-654.

Flax J, Lahey M, Harris K. & Boothroyd A (1991). Relations between prosodic variables and communication function. Journal of Child Language, 18: 3-19.

Lahey M, Flax J, and Harris K (1990). Vocal fundamental frequency variability in young children: Comments on Robb and Saxman, 1985. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 33: 619-621.

Lahey M., Flax, J, and Schlisselberg G (1985). Reduplication in relation to syllable maintenance and final consonant production in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 50: 186-194.

 

 

 

 

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