Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are investigating ways to use brain imaging to predict and detect autism spectrum disorders.
One neuromarker, which can be seen with MRI, can diagnose autism spectrum disorders with 97% accuracy. Using MRI and a technique that observes brain activation patterns, researchers are able to decode the content of a person’s thoughts of objects or emotions.
Previous research suggests that there are alterations or differences in the brain activation pathways of a person with an autism spectrum disorder. This study detected those differences in people with ASD. The alterations in neural pathways and activation were named “thought markers”. When people with ASD think about certain social concepts these thought markers activate differently in the brain when compared to neurotypical individuals.
Researchers scanned the brains of 17 adults with high-functioning autism and 17 neurotypical participants. They were told to think of words and actions such as “persuade”, “adore” and “hug”. Neurotypical adults showed brain activity towards the rear of the brain with indicates a representation of “self”. Those with ASD showed no activation in this area of the brain.
The implications of this study could mean that in conjunction with clinical assessment those of us who work with children with ASD could make a diagnosis more quickly and accurately allowing for better and earlier intervention.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are generally not “curable” and on-going management is required over an individual’s lifetime. As a child with ASD grows his/her behavioral characteristics will change, so will his/her needs. Read More