Sensory Processing Disorder

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Sensory Processing Disorder

At UCSF, we have an active team of neuroscientists investigating the causes and treatments of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In addition, we are part of the Sensory Processing Disorders Consortium, a national effort to bring together researchers who are striving to better diagnose, understand, and treat SPD.

We are currently in the midst of our Crowdfunding Campaign, and we need your help! Please click here to donate.

The UCSF Sensory Processing Group

The University of California, San Francisco is internationally recognized as one of the world's great research universities with a trademark culture of collaboration—we have researchers across silos working together to understand the roots of SPD and pioneering treatments. Our group, led by Elysa Marco, MD, a cognitive and behavioral clinical pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist, consists of world-renowned neuroscientists, neurologists, geneticists, radiologists, computational experts, and video game developers all with a unified focus on helping kids with SPD and related neurodevelopmental challenges.

For more information about our UCSF SPD program, email or call our study coordinator, Annie Aitkin, at or (415) 640-2680.

Brain Imaging Discoveries in Sensory Processing Disorder

We have ongoing structural and functional neuroimaging research studies with boys and girls affected by sensory processing differences. Our goal is to develop tools to help make clinical diagnosis of SPD using brain-based findings a reality. Our SPD neuroimaging team includes:
Elysa Marco, MD
Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD
Srikantan Nagarajan, PhD
Joaquin Anguerra, PhD
Julia Owen, PhD
Leighton Hinkley, PhD
Carly Demopolous, PhD
Yi-Shin Chang, BS

Genetic Discoveries in Sensory Processing Disorder

With the support of the Wallace Research Foundation, we are kicking off the first genetic investigation of SPD. This small study will investigate whether there are genetic variations in genes known to be critical to brain structure or function that are identified in our SPD group. Our SPD genetic team includes:
Elysa Marco, MD
Elliott Sherr, MD, PhD
Gilberto de Gente, PhD
Annie Aitken, BA

Pioneering Treatment using Video Games

Our recent work investigating visuomotor control and distractibility using iPad-based assessment tools has shown that many children with SPD have measurable differences in performance. As parents and clinicians, we know that more and more children are playing video games, which makes this platform ideal for building strong and efficient brain connections! We also know that in older adults, video games can help with attention control that lasts at least 6 months after the training is complete. We are testing a fun, cognitive training tool that plays like a game developed by Akili Interactive Labs. Our cognitive training team includes:
Elysa Marco, MD
Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD
Joaquin Anguerra, PhD