Brain Imaging

Neural Signatures of Autism

Source: 
PNAS, Kaiser, Hudack, Schultz, Lee, Cheung, Berken, Deen, Pitskel, Sugrue, Voos, Saulnier, Ventola, Wolf, Klin, Vander Wyk, Pelphrey
Date Published: 
December 2010
Year Published: 
2010

These findings of this study hold far-reaching implications for our understanding of the neural systems underlying autism. Using FMRI to record the biological motion of children with autism spectrum disorder, unaffected siblings of children with ASD, and typically developing children, the study reveals three types of neural signatures: The study finds distinct brain responses to biological motion exhibited by typical developing children and unaffected siblings. This finding is particularly striking given the identical behavioral nature of these two groups.

Altered Functional Connectivity in Frontal Lobe Circuits Is Associated with Variation in the Autism Risk Gene CNTNAP2

Source: 
Pediatrics, Scott-Van Zeeland et al
Date Published: 
December 2010
Year Published: 
2010

People with a common variant of the CNTNAP2 gene, a gene associated with a heightened risk of autism, ADD/ADHD and other language difficulties, have a "disconnect" between their frontal lobe and other areas of the brain important for language, according to this fMRI study. The disconnect may help explain some of the language and communication difficulties that are characteristic of autism. About one-third of all people carry the variant of the CNTNAP2 gene.

Regardless of whether the test subjects had autism or not, children with the CNTNAP2 "risk" gene showed more activity in the frontal lobe of the brain during a "language learning" task than those without the 'risk' gene.

Describing the Brain in Autism in Five Dimensions-Magnetic Resonance Imaging Assisted Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Using a Multiparameter Classification Approach

Source: 
Journal of Neuroscience, Ecker et al
Date Published: 
December 2010
Year Published: 
2010

The study tested a group of 20 high functioning adults with autism, together with 20 control adults, to determine whether MRI scans can detect autism. Using left hemisphere cortical thickness, the algorithm could achieve 90% accuracy, however the right hemisphere was worse at differentiating between the two groups. The study shows that it is feasible to use analytic techniques in MRI to investigate differences in the autistic brain.

Brain Scans Detect Autism's Signature

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
November 16, 2010
Abstract: 

An autism study by Yale School of Medicine researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified a pattern of brain activity that may characterize the genetic vulnerability to developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The team identified three distinct "neural signatures": trait markers -- brain regions with reduced activity in children with ASD and their unaffected siblings; state markers -- brain areas with reduced activity found only in children with autism; and compensatory activity -- enhanced activity seen only in unaffected siblings. The enhanced brain activity may reflect a developmental process by which these children overcome a genetic predisposition to develop ASD.

How the Brain is Wired for Attention

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
November 2, 2010

University of Utah (U of U) medical researchers have uncovered a wiring diagram that shows how the brain pays attention to visual, cognitive, sensory, and motor cues. The research provides a critical foundation for the study of abnormalities in attention that can be seen in many brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder.

Neurogenetics Research Sheds Light on the Causes of Neurological Disease

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
October 21, 2010
Abstract: 

The last two decades have seen tremendous progress in understanding the genetic basis of human brain disorders. Research developments in this area have revealed fundamental insights into the genes and molecular pathways that underlie neurological and psychiatric diseases. In a new series of review articles, experts in the field discuss exciting recent advances in neurogenetics research and the potential implications for the treatment of these devastating disorders.

Scientists One Step Closer to Diagnosing Autism with MRI

Source: 
Sify News
Date Published: 
October 13, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers at the University of Utah (U of U) are one step closer to diagnosing autism using MRI, an advance that eventually could help health care providers identify the problem much earlier in children and lead to improved treatment and outcomes for those with the disorder.

Better Way Developed to See Molecules at Work in Living Brain

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
October 12, 2010
Abstract: 

By creating a better way to see molecules at work in living brain cells, researchers affiliated with MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the MIT Department of Chemistry are helping elucidate molecular mechanisms of synapse formation. These studies could also help further understanding of how synapses go awry in developmental diseases such as autism and Fragile X syndrome.

Mental Maturity Scan Tracks Brain Development

Source: 
Eurek Alert
Date Published: 
September 9, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers utilize a new methodology when looking at brain scanning data that may be able to help track and monitor developmental disorders.

Gene Scan Finds Link Across Array of Childhood Brain Disorder

Source: 
EurekAlert
Date Published: 
August 22, 2010
Abstract: 

Mutations in a single gene can cause several types of developmental brain abnormalities that experts have traditionally considered different disorders. With support from the National Institutes of Health, researchers found those mutations through whole exome sequencing – a new gene scanning technology that cuts the cost and time of searching for rare mutations. Whole exome sequencing can be applied to dozens of other rare genetic disorders where the culprit genes have so far evaded discovery. Such information can help couples assess the risk of passing on genetic disorders to their children. It can also offer insights into disease mechanisms and treatments.