Speech Therapy

Autistic Traits and Signatures Revealed by Brain Scans

To date, there has been no proper evidence to what is the cause of autism. Until now, there has been no conclusive evidence that autistic traits and symptoms are directly related to genetics.

A recent study at the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven has made use of functional magnetic resonance imaging which has been able to draw conclusive patterns of brain activities that can establish the genetic vulnerability of developing autism spectrum disorder.

Autistic Traits and Genetics: The report of the research has been published in the 17 November, 2010 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study can be helpful in diagnosing autism at early stages in a more precise and accurate manner.

  • People who suffer from autism spectrum disorders exhibit various traits like impaired communication, lack of social skills et.
  • Also, they lack an ability to interpret biological motion i.e, the movements of other people, which is the very reason they cannot understand social activities very well.
  • All the traits of autistics are related to a certain developmental impairment in the brain.

The Research: As a part of the research, 62 children aged between 4 and 17 were studied. The 62 children constituted of-

  • some suffering from autism spectrum disorders
  • the siblings of the children suffering from autism
  • typically developing children

The children’s brain activity was scanned while they were asked to follow a visual cue. The cue contained animations of biological motion.

The brain scans have been able to diagnose three distinct neural patterns viz.,

  • trait markers-reduced activity in certain regions of the brain in children with autism and their siblings
  • state markers-reduced activity in certain regions of the brain in only children with autism
  • compensatory activity-unaffected as well as bettered brain activity in the siblings

The compensatory activity in the unaffected siblings explains the reason why these children have not developed autism disorder despite it existing in their genes.

The study of these autistic traits and the related brain activity can shed light on the genetic origins of this communication and developmental disorder.

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