Brain Imaging

How the Autistic Brain Distinguishes Oneself from Others

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
December 14, 2009
Abstract: 

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that the brains of individuals with autism are less active when engaged in self-reflective thought. The study published in the journal Brain provides new evidence for the neural correlates of self-awareness and a new window into understanding social difficulties in autism spectrum conditions.

Behavioral Training Improves Connectivity and Function in the Brain

Source: 
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Date Published: 
December 9, 2009
Abstract: 

Children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region, in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Baby Face--Harvard Experts Hope Facial Recognition Studies Benefit Autism Research

Source: 
ABC News
Date Published: 
December 4, 2009
Abstract: 

Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston studying the science of how babies read facial expressions say they're hoping their results will prove useful for autism and developmental research. Scientists at Harvard believe emotion detection is so crucial in everyday life that they're willing to cajole babies into an electrode "net" to see how to see how humans first learn to read faces.

Autism-Risk Gene Rewires the Brain in a Way That Disrupts Learning and Language Acquisition

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
November 3, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers at UCLA have discovered how an autism-risk gene rewires the brain, which could pave the way for treatments aimed at rebalancing brain circuits during early development. Dr. Geschwind and team examined the variations in brain function and connectivity resulting from two forms of the CNTNAP2 gene - one form of the gene increases the risk of autism. The researchers suspected that CNTNAP2 might have an important impact on brain activity. They used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to scan 32 children's brains while they were performing tasks related to learning. Only 16 of them had autism.

The imaging results confirmed their suspicions. All the children with the autism-risk gene showed a disjointed brain, regardless of their diagnosis. Their frontal lobe was over-connected to itself, while connection to the rest of the brain was poor, especially with the back of the brain. There was also a difference between how the left and right sides of the brain connected with each other, depending on which CNTNAP2 version the child carried.

The authors believe their findings could help identify autism risk earlier, and eventually lead to interventions that could enhance connections between the frontal lobe and the left side of the brain.