Catch the Replay: Data Citizens Distinguished Lecture by Dr. Matthew Goodwin

Dr. Matthew S. Goodwin, University of Miami Data Citizens: A Distinguished Lecture Series guest speaker

Catch the Replay: Data Citizens Distinguished Lecture by Dr.…

IDSC was pleased to host Dr. Matthew S. Goodwin on “The Promises of Wearable Bio-Sensing Technology for Youth with Autism”. In case you missed it, catch the replay on YouTube. The lecture took place on Wednesday April 19, 2023, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM, in person at the Richter Library and via ZOOM.


Researcher Deploys Wearable Bio-Sensing Technology to Gain Insights into Autism Spectrum Disorder

Datasets generated by bio-sensing wearables coupled with machine learning and analytic tools can provide fresh insights into autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a leading-edge Boston clinician and researcher. “Rather than rely on brief clinical encounters, summaries and surveys, we can measure vital signs and behaviors directly,” said Matthew S. Goodwin, Ph.D., interdisciplinary associate professor in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and the Khoury College of Computer Science at Northeastern University, and director of the Computational Behavioral Science Laboratory. “Bio-sensing data is not a panacea, though, because you need the right context and conditions to tease out actionable information.”

Daniel Messsinger, speaker, Smart Cities MIAMI 2022Dr. Goodwin delivered an April 19, 2023 lecture on “The Promises of Wearable Bio-Sensing Technology for Youth with Autism” at the Richter Library in the Data Citizens Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by the University of Miami Institute for Data Science and Computing (IDSC) and the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He was introduced by Daniel Messinger, Ph.D., director, IDSC Social and Behavioral Data Science; professor of psychology, pediatrics, electrical & computer engineering, and music engineering; coordinator, Developmental Psychology Program; and research director, Linda Ray Intervention Center at the University of Miami.

In his research, Dr. Goodwin has focused on the 30-40% of young people with ASD who exhibit dangerous aggressive or self-injurious behaviors. “If we can develop systems to identify and push just-in-time notifications, a parent or other caregiver could intervene and have an opportunity to change those behaviors,” he said. “At least, the adult would not be caught off guard having to react to a crisis.”

Drawing on more than 25 years of ASD experience, Dr. Goodwin said the most severely affected children are under served and under studied. “Laboratory-based research facilities are strange places for these young people, who are around strange people and being asked to do new tasks,” he said. “It’s not surprising that many children can’t regulate themselves in this situation. We often see anxious, obsessive repetitive behaviors, such as hand flapping, body rocking or finger flicking,, but the drivers behind these patterns are unclear.”

To better understand youth with ASD in a more natural setting, Dr. Goodwin uses bio-sensing wearables for monitoring signs of physiological arousal such as increased heart rate, pattern recognition algorithms to detect stereotypical motor movements; and unobtrusive audio and video systems to record behavior and development over time.


Using these tools, Dr. Goodwin has found an increase in heart rate often occurs several seconds before a repetitive behavior begins, then slows during the motor movements. That could indicate the child is trying to regulate stress at the time, so trying to stop the body rocking or hand flapping might not be helpful, he added.

Dr. Goodwin has also studied children in institutional settings, where staff members wear devices that toggle on and off to signal the beginning and end of an aggressive behavior. “Our study found that we could predict these behaviors three minutes in advance with 80 percent accuracy,” he said. “If we can learn more about these processes, we can develop a data warehouse, and give new tools to health professionals to extend their reach. Looking ahead, we need medical, behavioral and computational experts sitting together to bring full value to society.”

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STORY by Richard Westlund


About Dr. Goodwin

Matthew S. Goodwin is an Interdisciplinary Associate Professor with tenure at Northeastern University jointly appointed in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and the Khoury College of Computer Science, where he is a founding member of a new doctoral program in Personal Health Informatics and Directs the Computational Behavioral Science Laboratory.

Goodwin has held appointments at Harvard Medical School as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (2018-2020), Brown University as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (2008-2018), and the MIT Media Lab as Director of Clinical Research (2008-2011). He has also served on the Executive Board of the International Society for Autism Research (2005-2008) and the Scientific Advisory Board for Autism Speaks (2014-2017). He has over 25 years of research and clinical experience working with children and adults on the autism spectrum and developing and evaluating innovative behavioral assessment and intervention technologies, including video and audio capture, telemetric physiological monitors, accelerometry sensors, and digital video/facial recognition systems.

Goodwin has received several honors, including a dissertation award from the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology, the Peter Merenda Prize in Statistics and Research Methodology, Hariri Award for Transformative Computational Science, a career contribution award from the Princeton Autism Lecture Series, and he was named an Aspen Ideas Scholar by the Aspen Institute and a Matilda White Riley Early-Stage Investigator by the National Institutes of Health. He has obtained research funding from various sources, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, Department of Defense, Simons Foundation, Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, and Autism Speaks.

Goodwin received his B.A. in psychology from St. Clare’s in Oxford and Wheaton College and his MA and PhD in experimental psychology and behavioral science from the University of Rhode Island. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Affective Computing in the MIT Media Lab in 2010.


TALK TITLE: The Promises of Wearable Bio-Sensing Technology for Youth with Autism

This presentation will demonstrate several innovative technologies being developed to enhance and accelerate research and learning in individuals on the autism spectrum, including wireless sensors for long-term monitoring of physiological arousal in natural settings; wireless 3-axis accelerometers and pattern recognition algorithms that can automate the detection of stereotypical hand flapping and body rocking; and unobtrusive audio and video capture systems able to gather ultradense longitudinal records of behavior and development in home environments. This approach illustrates how objective data streams can be modeled to predict real world behavior in clinical samples.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Develop awareness of wearable autonomic nervous system sensing technology to assess physiological indicators of stress and arousal in individuals with ASD.
  2. Develop awareness of wearable physical activity sensing technology to assess stereotypical motor movements in individuals with ASD.
  3. Develop awareness of audio and video capture devices to assess longitudinal behavior and its development in individuals with ASD.


About Data Citizens

Data Citizens: A Distinguished Lecture Series is an ongoing course of in-depth talks by experts in the field of data science on a wide variety of topics including data visualization, big data, AI, and predictive analytics. The Data Citizens lecture series is co-sponsored by the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and is free and open to the public.

Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI Miami) logo, the letters CTSI split diagonally with top part in orange, bottom park dark green and the words MIAMI CLINICAL & TRANSLATIONAL SCIENCE INSTITUTE to the right in grey with only the word SCIENCE in orange.