Associate Director, Center for Autism Research
Helen M. Genova, Ph.D. is the assistant director of the foundation's Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research and director of the Social Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory. She is also assistant research professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers University-NJ Medical School. Since the start of her professional career in 2007, she has successfully obtained grant funding, either as principal investigator or co-investigator, from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation research (NIDILRR), National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the New Jersey Commission on Traumatic Brain Injury Research, the ARSEP Foundation, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. She has focused on examining social and cognitive issues across multiple populations, including those utilizing both behavioral and neuroimaging methods to study social cognition and emotional processing. Particularly in regard to social cognition, Dr. Genova has played an important role in pioneering innovative research applying promising interventions targeting deficits in social cognition in Autism, Multiple Sclerosis and Traumatic Brain Injury. Dr. Genova has also devoted much of her career to investigating other cognitive issues in clinical populations, including the assessment and treatment of cognitive fatigue.
Dr. Genova is interested in two broad fields involving cognition. The first is social cognition, which are a set of skills required to understand and process the emotions of others. Dr. Genova has applied a number of techniques to the assessment of social cognition including neuropsychological tests, eye-tracking, functional neuroimaging, structural neuroimaging, and virtual reality.
Further, Dr. Genova has investigated treatments for improving social cognition, in adults with MS and TBI, as well as adolescents with ASD. Finally, she is interested in examining what variables are affected by or predict social cognition deficits, including social isolation, depression, fatigue and quality of life.
Dr. Genova's other research interest is the assessment and treatment of cognitive fatigue. Dr. Genova and her colleagues have utilized neuroimaging to examine an objective measurement of fatigue without needing to rely on self-report measures. Through these studies, her research team has identified critical brain regions which appear to be linked to the perception of fatigue. These results now guide current research projects which include using exercise and other lifestyle changes to reduce fatigue, including aquatic exercise.