The Future of Autism Research

Nothing about us without us.

The autism community has made it clear that research must be participatory and co-designed by them. Sir Simon Baron-Cohen examines how this stance has changed the course and focus of autism research. In addition, he examines the current tension between neurodiversity and disability and how to better protect the human rights of autistic people. He encourages the scientific community to embrace these challenges as opportunities to explore and expand what we can know.

Becca Lory Hector joins the conversation to provide perspective from an autistic adult. She addresses the “nothing about us without us” axiom from a personal point of view and with an eye to how research should focus on bettering the lives of those on the spectrum. The discussion also looks at the rate of suicide and depression affecting the community and how mental health should be supported.

Michelle McGowan shares the perspective of parents with autistic children and asks important questions about how science can support children as they grow into adulthood. She also explores how parents, educators, and education systems can better understand and communicate with non-neurotypical children.

This important conversation was the keynote presentation at the Autism Tree Project Foundation Annual Neuroscience Conference.

Watch Autism Research & Neurodiversity: The Changing Culture with Sir Simon Baron-Cohen.


Better Sleep Means Better Health

Sleep is an essential function of our lives. Sleep enables us to grow, it regulates our metabolism, and heart and lung functions, it solidifies our memories and clears toxins from the brain. Yet 35% of Americans are considered sleep deprived, getting fewer than seven hours of sleep a night. And nearly half of American adults suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia.

So how can we learn to sleep better and improve our physical and mental health? Dr. Ellen Lee, UC San Diego Assistant Professor of Psychology, discusses what happens when we sleep, common disorders like insomnia, how COVID-19 has impacted our sleep, and effective treatments for sleep issues.

Watch Sleep Better, Feel Better: How Sleep Affects Our Mental and Physical Health with Ellen Lee.


Script to Screen: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Don’t miss this episode of Script to Screen where Destin Daniel Cretton, director and co-writer of Marvel’s Shang-Chi, answered questions about the film from moderator Matt Ryan.

Cretton discussed a wide range of topics, including the casting of legendary actors Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh, as well as the intense physical training and emotionally complex performances required of cast members Simu Liu and Meng’er Zhang. He also talked about some of his favorite elements of the film, including the rich familial themes that drive the story. Cretton elaborated on the influences behind his decisions to incorporate complex ideas such as grief and the family dynamics of Asian households, and how these allowed for an unconventional relationship between the film’s hero and villain. He also commented on the importance of Asian representation in the film, and how important it was to portray realistic Asian and Asian American perspectives through its characters.

Watch Script to Screen: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.


The Pros and Cons of Technology

At this moment in history, technology surrounds us – even more so in the past two decades. It allows us to stay connected in unimaginable ways.

Twenty years ago, the smartphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and video conferencing were all emerging technologies. The world was revolutionized with the advancement of 3G or third-generation connectivity in our mobile phones in 2002, and now, nearly 20 years later, almost every mobile smartphone has the ability to connect to a 5G cellular network.

As technology evolves, so do its uses, especially in the political arena.

Technological advancements in voting were made following the 2000 presidential election which saw no clear winner on election night. Punch cards paved the way for new technology like electronic voting machines. Fast forward 20 years when a worldwide pandemic forced the country to find a new way to get to the polls. A record number of voters cast their ballots by mail, which led to a delay in the presidential election being called not on election night, but nearly three and a half days later.

This delay, and increased election scrutiny following the 2020 election, is causing some tech companies to find a solution that might make it easier and more efficient for people to vote. Earlier this year, the city of Chandler, Arizona, launched a pilot program using a smartphone app to vote. The “Voatz” app uses blockchain technology which makes it difficult to change or hack. It is the same technology used for the increasingly popular cryptocurrency.

While advances in technology are being used in positive ways, there is also a contingent using technology in a negative fashion.

Deep fakes use artificial intelligence (or machine learning) to replace the likeness of one person with another in video or digital media. While these videos have not found their way into mainstream media, some have been found floating around social media. The House Intelligence Committee held hearings on the potential malicious use of deepfakes to sway elections. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have introduced legislation to respond to the problems posed by deep fakes.

So, the question we must ask is should innovation and security always be at odds? Is there a way to find a balance between the two? Join Secretary Janet Napolitano and Senator Mark Warner, two national security experts and public servants, for a fascinating discussion about the risks and opportunities of emergent technologies for voting, political engagement and much more.

Watch: Emergent Technologies: Friend or Foe?


Looking Back and Looking Forward

As we welcome 2022, we at UCTV wish you a happy and healthy new year and thank you for your enthusiastic interest in fact-based videos from the University of California. We are proud to bring you scientists, composers, public policy experts, doctors, authors and more. If it crosses your mind, it crosses a UC campus.

Despite COVID restrictions that have meant most of the videos are being recorded remotely, we introduced a record 450 videos this year and added 250,000 YouTube subscribers, bringing us to over 970,000. That will put our total subscribers at one million in just a few months! There are 37 million YouTube channels out there but less than one percent reach that milestone. Thank you for making that possible.

This year we have endeavored to keep you up-to-date on COVID discoveries, what’s new in stem cell research and applications, explored the origins of humans with CARTA and showcased interviews and talks with filmmakers and authors. Contending with Climate Change continues to be a topic of interest and we’ve provided valuable information on the path to college, in English and Spanish.

We are ending the year with some highly viewed programs – among them is the recent Dark Persuasion on the history of brainwashing, Adapting to a COVID World, and Inflammation, the Brain and Fatty Acid. Other programs you enjoyed this year include Santa Cecilia in Concert, Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death and Solar Probe Touches the Sun, just to name a few. It’s been quite a year!

The UCTV team is already busy preparing new programs for you in the coming year. On a personal note, the end of this year is also the end of my tenure at UCTV. It’s been an amazing adventure taking a small local station to the powerhouse it is now. This is truly a team effort and I have been privileged to work with this group of talented individuals for close to 30 years! I’m excited to watch the future unfold along with all of you.

Thank you!
Lynn Burnstan
Executive Director, UCTV