Dr Amaral’s research deals with the neurobiology of social behavior and with the development and neuroanatomical organization and plasticity of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampal formation. His research effort has increasingly been dedicated to understanding the biological bases of autism spectrum disorder.
This work includes postmortem studies of the autistic brain and magnetic resonance imaging studies of children with autism spectrum disorder. He has also spearheaded efforts to establish nonhuman primate models of neuroimmune etiologies of autism spectrum disorder. As Research Director of the M.I.N.D. Institute, he coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism called the Autism Phenome Project to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism. Most recently, Dr Amaral has become Director of Autism BrainNet, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Simons Foundation and Autism Speaks, to solicit postmortem brain tissue to facilitate autism research.