Brain Imaging

Method Reveals Relationship Between White, Gray Matter

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 27, 2014
Abstract: 

A new technique helps researchers trace the nerve fibers that connect brain regions by revealing how the fibers physically relate to curves and folds on the brain’s surface. The method was described in Medical Image Analysis. The technique examines the relationship between white matter, composed of nerve fibers and support cells, and gray matter, which is largely made of the cell bodies of the neurons the fibers sprout from. Preliminary findings support the theory that autism involves early, hyperconnected and dense brain growth before an abnormal decline, the researchers say.

Oxytocin enhances brain function in children with autism

Source: 
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date Published: 
December 24, 2013

"Following intranasal administration of oxytocin (OT), we measured, via functional MRI, changes in brain activity during judgments of socially (Eyes) and nonsocially (Vehicles) meaningful pictures in 17 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). OT increased activity in the striatum, the middle frontal gyrus, the medial prefrontal cortex, the right orbitofrontal cortex, and the left superior temporal sulcus. In the striatum, nucleus accumbens, left posterior superior temporal sulcus, and left premotor cortex, OT increased activity during social judgments and decreased activity during nonsocial judgments. Changes in salivary OT concentrations from baseline to 30 min postadministration were positively associated with increased activity in the right amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex during social vs. nonsocial judgments. OT may thus selectively have an impact on salience and hedonic evaluations of socially meaningful stimuli in children with ASD, and thereby facilitate social attunement. These findings further the development of a neurophysiological systems-level understanding of mechanisms by which OT may enhance social functioning in children with ASD."

'Resting' Autism Brains Still Hum with Activity

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
February 21, 2014
Abstract: 

Even at rest, the brains of people with autism manage more information than those of their peers, according to a new study that may provide support for the so-called ‘intense world’ theory of autism. The research, which was published in Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, included nine children with Asperger syndrome, aged between 6 and 14 and ten age-matched typical children. The researchers scanned their brains using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a noninvasive method that doesn’t require lying in a noisy, confined space as magnetic resonance imaging does. The results suggest that in the same boring situation, people with autism process more information than their typical peers.

New Imaging Method Details Brain Abnormalities in Mice

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
November 14, 2013
Abstract: 

A new imaging technique that can assemble finely detailed pictures of an individual mouse’s brain in less than a day is being used to explore mouse models of autism. The automated technique cuts a mouse brain into 280 thin slices, which are scanned by a powerful microscope and the resulting images are then stitched together into a three-dimensional view. The researchers used this technique to investigate the imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory signals in a mouse model of 16p11.2 deletion. People missing this chromosomal region have an increased risk for autism, and about one-quarter have epilepsy, in which an excess of excitatory signals causes seizures.

White Matter in Brain Develops Differently in Children with Autism

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
December 6, 2013
Abstract: 

A study in Brain Research shows a difference in how auditory nerve fibers develop may explain why children with autism process sounds a fraction of a second more slowly than typically developing children do. It is known that the brain’s response to sound speeds up as children age. This boost in speed is known to be accompanied by the maturation of white matter — the nerve fibers that connect brain regions. It was once believed that in children with autism, the white matter didn't mature with age like it does in typically-developing children. However, it is now believed that it does mature with age in children with autism, just in a different way.

New Technique Maps Topography of Autism Brain Connections

Source: 
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date Published: 
July 22, 2013
Abstract: 

A technique borrowed from geography bolsters the idea that altered wiring of the brain’s gray matter plays a role in autism, according to a new report. This is the first study to examine intrinsic connectivity in the living brain.

Brain Imaging Study Suggests Autism and Asperger's Syndrome May Be Biologically Distinct Conditions

Source: 
BMC Medicine
Date Published: 
June 26, 2012
Abstract: 

A brain imaging study out of Boston Children's Hospital suggests that autism and Asperger's syndrome are biologically distinct conditions. The study analyzes the patterns of brain connectivity in children with ASD and found that children with autism might have distinct neural signaling patterns. This study follows the release of the APA's new DSM-5 that classifies Asperger's under an umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

News Article: http://www.medicaldaily.com/aspergers-syndrome-and-autism-are-biological...

Scientists Launch Large Brain Imaging Scan Database

Source: 
Molecular Psychiatry
Date Published: 
June 18, 2013
Abstract: 

Scientists create an accessible database of more than 1,000 brain scans of people with autism and controls. The database, called the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE), will help scientists share brain imaging data.

Voices May Not Trigger Brain's Reward Centers in Children with ASD

Source: 
PNAS
Date Published: 
June 17, 2013
Abstract: 

This Stanford study identifies an underconnectivity between the voice-selective cortex and the reward centers in the brain. This could suggest why children with autism have trouble grasping the social and emotional aspects of human speech.

Brain Imaging Reveals Thicker Cortex with More Folds in Autism Brains

Source: 
Brain: A Journal of Neurology
Date Published: 
June 2013
Abstract: 

Brain imaging study reveals individuals with autism have a ticker cortex with more folds. This suggests that differences in cognitive abilities of people with autism could be due to unique brain structures.