Research Reveals ‘Idiosyncratic’ Brain Functions in ASD Individually unique brain patterns in people with autism could lead to earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and development of future treatments, according to a recent study in Nature Neuroscience. Some previous studies have shown that brain functions in those with autism display a lack of synchronization—or “connectivity”—but others have ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2015
Research Reveals ‘Idiosyncratic’ Brain Functions in ASD
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2015
Research Reveals ‘Idiosyncratic’ Brain Functions in ASD
The ASHA Leader, March 2015, Vol. 20, 17. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.20032015.17
The ASHA Leader, March 2015, Vol. 20, 17. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.20032015.17
Individually unique brain patterns in people with autism could lead to earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and development of future treatments, according to a recent study in Nature Neuroscience.
Some previous studies have shown that brain functions in those with autism display a lack of synchronization—or “connectivity”—but others have noted the opposite, finding a clear pattern of over-synchronization.
The new study, co-authored by Avital Hahamy and Rafael Malach of the Weizmann Institute in Israel and Marlene Behrmann of Carnegie Mellon University, suggests the variety and uniqueness of brain function could actually be indicative of ASD itself, and has shown that these “idiosyncratic” patterns across individuals could help researchers to better understand the disease and its behavioral traits.
“It opens up the possibility that there are many altered brain profiles, all of which fall under the umbrella of ‘autism’ or ‘autisms,’” Behrmann says.
The researchers collected functional magnetic resonance imaging data from participants, representing a control group and people with ASD, in a resting state. The images from the control group displayed similar, “conformist” connectivity across individuals, while people with ASD exhibited larger differences among brain patterns of activation. This research could lead to a better understanding of how people with and without ASD operate and communicate in different environments.
“From a young age, the average, typical person’s brain networks get molded by intensive interaction with people and the mutual environmental factors,” says Hahamy. “Such shared experiences could make the synchronization patterns in the control group’s resting brains more similar to each other. It is possible that in ASD, as interactions with the environment are disrupted, each [person with ASD] develops a more uniquely individualistic brain organization pattern.”
The study’s authors emphasize that further research is needed to determine how and when ASD-related idiosyncrasies develop in the brain.
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March 2015
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