Dr. Timothy Roberts

Principal Investigator
Oberkircher Family Chair in Pediatric Radiology
Professor of Radiology, Vice-chair, Research, Dept. of Radiology Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Professor of Radiology, Perelman School of Medicine Adjunct, Professor of Linguistics University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Roberts obtained his PhD from Cambridge University, England in 1992 (BA, Cambridge University, 1988). He has subsequently been on the faculty at UCSF (Radiology, 1994-2002, Asst. & Assoc. Prof) and the University of Toronto (Medical Imaging, 2002-2005, Assoc. and Full Prof) and is presently holder of the Oberkircher Family Chair in Pediatric Radiology and Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Radiology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as Professor of Radiology and Adjunct Professor of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania. He directs the Lurie Family Foundations MEG Imaging Center at CHOP (one of the larger clinical and research MEG facilities in the USA, with 3 MEG devices and a staff of approximately 25-30 faculty, postdocs, graduate students, research assistants and technologists). His work in multimodal, 4D/5D functional imaging using biomagnetic recording (magnetoencephalography, MEG) as well as advanced MRI techniques (such as diffusion tensor imaging and edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy), specifically in the study of auditory processing and language in autism spectrum disorders has been supported by the National Alliance for Autism Research and is presently supported by Autism Speaks, the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Simons Foundation, the Dept. of Defense and NIH. He additionally has served/is serving as the primary mentor of 5 junior faculty who are supported by NIH “K”-awards (Edgar, Leitman, Berman, Chen, Bloy) and has active research endeavors, beyond the field of autism, in Schizophrenia, TBI and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as methodological development. He has published in excess of 300 scientific papers, 30+ book chapters and given a large number of international invited presentations, mostly in the field of physiologic and functional imaging, reviews grant proposals for NIH (standing member, DBD 2008-12) and several equivalent international agencies (UK, Germany, Austria, Singapore, Israel, Cyprus, Canada, Holland), and serves on the executive committee of the American Society for Neuroradiology, the American Society for Functional Neuroradiology (President 2009-10) and the International Society for the Advancement of Clinical MEG (President 2009-11).

Dr. Timothy Roberts

Related Publications

  • This study introduces an objective neurophysiological marker of language ability, the integral of event-related desynchronization in the 5–20 Hz band during 0.2–1 seconds post auditory stimulation with interleaved word/non-word tokens. This measure correlates with clinical assessment of language function in both ASD and neurotypical pediatric populations. The measure does not appear related to general cognitive ability nor autism symptom severity (beyond degree of language impairment). We suggest that this oscillatory brain activity indexes lexical search and thus increases with increased search in the mental lexicon. While specificity for language impairment in ASD remains to be determined, such an objective index has potential utility in low functioning individuals with ASD and young children during language acquisition.
  • 47,XYY syndrome (XYY) is a male sex chromosome disorder where individuals have an X chromosome and two copies of the Y chromosome. XYY is associated with a physical phenotype and carries increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Latencies of auditory evoked responses measured by magnetoencephalography have shown atypical prolongations in several neuropsychiatric and genetic disorders; specifically, delayed auditory responses have been observed in ASD. In this study, we investigated the associations of genotype and clinical phenotype with auditory processing. Whole cortex magnetoencephalography recorded during a passive auditory paradigm (500 Hz tones) was used to assess the auditory evoked response in three groups of male children: idiopathic ASD, typically developing, and XYY boys. Response waveforms were computed for left and right auditory cortex and latencies of the ∼50 ms (M50) and ∼100 ms (M100) components were determined. M50 latencies were significantly delayed compared with typically developing controls in children with ASD in the right hemisphere only, and in children with XYY in the left hemisphere only, irrespective of whether they met diagnostic criteria for ASD. Findings on the later M100 component trended in the same directions but did not attain significance, due to increased variance. Replicating previous findings, decreased M50 and M100 latencies with age were observed bilaterally. Overall, while XYY shares an electrophysiological phenotype (delayed evoked response latency) with idiopathic ASD, the hemispheric differences warrant further investigation.

  • Chen, Y., Saby, J., Kuschner, E.S., Gaetz, W., Edgar, J.C., Roberts., T.: Magnetoencephalography (MEG) of Infant Brain Development. NeuroImage. In press.
  • Matsuzaki J., Ku M., Berman JI., Blaskey L., Bloy L., Chen YH., Dell J., Edgar JC., Kuschner ES., Liu S., Saby J., Brodkin ES., Roberts TPL. Abnormal auditory mismatch fields in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Neuroscience letters, 2018, 698:140-145. Doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.12.043. PMID: 30599264
  • Chen YH., Saby J., Kuschner E., Gaetz W., Edgar JC., Roberts TPL. Magnetoencephalography and the infant brain. Neuroimage, 2019, 189:445-458. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.01.059. PMID: 30685329
  • Timothy P.L. Roberts, Sarah Y. Khan, Mike Rey, Justin F. Monroe, Katelyn Cannon, Lisa Blaskey, Sarah Woldoff, Saba Qasmieh, Mike Gandal, Gwen L. Schmidt, Deborah M. Zarnow, Susan E. Levy, and J. Christopher Edgar. MEG Detection of Delayed Auditory Evoked Responses in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Towards an Imaging Biomarker for Autism. Autism Research 3: 8–18, 2010
  • Berman, J.I., M. Lanza, L. Blaskey, J. Edgar and T. Roberts (2013). High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging Probabilistic Tractography of the Auditory Radiation. American Journal of Neuroradiology 34(8): 1573-1578.
  • Berman, J. I., D. Chudnovskaya, L. Blaskey, E. Kuschner, P. Mukherjee, R. Buckner, S. Nagarajan, W. K. Chung, E. H. Sherr and T. P. Roberts (2016). Relationship between M100 Auditory Evoked Response and Auditory Radiation Microstructure in 16p11.2 Deletion and Duplication Carriers. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 37(6): 1178-1184.