Imaging Method Could Track Autism Treatment Effects in Boys A new method of brain-circuit mapping and tracking could help clinicians physically measure progress made with different interventions in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research. The new study, appearing in JAMA Psychiatry, shows how a specific biomarker—the functioning of the brain’s social perception circuit—can be measured through ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   August 01, 2016
Imaging Method Could Track Autism Treatment Effects in Boys
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   August 01, 2016
Imaging Method Could Track Autism Treatment Effects in Boys
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.21082016.15
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.21082016.15
A new method of brain-circuit mapping and tracking could help clinicians physically measure progress made with different interventions in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research.
The new study, appearing in JAMA Psychiatry, shows how a specific biomarker—the functioning of the brain’s social perception circuit—can be measured through brain imaging.
“This is significant because biomarkers give us a ‘why’ for understanding autism in boys that we haven’t had before,” says co-author Kevin Pelphrey, the Carbonell Family Professor in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and director of the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute at George Washington University. “We can now use functional biomarkers to identify what treatments will be effective for individual cases and measure progress.”

“Biomarkers give us a ‘why’ for understanding autism in boys.”

The researchers studied scans from 114 participants (82 boys and 32 girls ages 4 to 20, some with ASD and others typically developing) showing reduced social-perception-circuit functioning in boys with ASD. (The results did not distinguish between girls with or without ASD; the researchers say they are working on another study to find an equivalent method that works for girls.)
The brain-imaging method may be especially helpful in complex cases to determine effective interventions within appropriate timeframes, says lead author Malin Björnsdotter, assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
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August 2016
Volume 21, Issue 8