Andrew McKechanie

Dr Andrew McKechanie is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at The Patrick Wild Centre and a Consultant Psychiatrist in Intellectual Disability working in East Lothian.

My research principally relates to neurodevelopmental disorders, intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders and seeks to expand the knowledge of what may contribute to the development of these disorders, as well as identify practical solutions and interventions that may help patients and their families.  To this end, we use state-of-the-art brain-imaging and genetic techniques to try to identify the underlying neurobiology of these conditions.

This is an example of data from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) through the brain of an individual with fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of autism and intellectual disability. The coloured areas show the brain regions that are active while looking at a fearful face. Researchers in the Patrick Wild Centre are using this technique to examine how brains of people with fragile X syndrome process information such as emotion and fear.

I am particularly interested in the functional brain activity of individuals with fragile X syndrome, the most common known cause of inherited learning disability. It results in a wide range of difficulties for children and young people including learning disabilities, short attention span, distractibility, impulsiveness, restlessness, over-activity, sensory problems as well as social, emotional and communication difficulties.  In studying Magnetic Resonance Images of the brain (MRI) we hope to identify possible markers of response to treatment or indeed, as predictors of likely response.  I also run a parallel project examining functional brain activity in young adults, looking at the broader risk factors for the development of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Another key part of my role with the Patrick Wild Centre is my work with Dr Andrew Stanfield in our clinical trial endeavours. In these, we are developing new trials to test potential new interventions to help individuals affected by autism, fragile X syndrome and intellectual disabilities.


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