This press release is available in French.
A new study, the first of its kind, combines two complementary analytical brain imaging techniques, to provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the neuroanatomy of the autistic brain. The study, published in the April issue of neuroimaging journal Human Brain Mapping, was conducted by researchers at The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital The Neuro, McGill University and the Universit de Montral. The findings provide critical insight into autism and possible markers for the disease for use in early therapy and therapeutic strategies.
Autism is a complex spectrum disorder thought to affect 1 in 166 people. Autistic individuals have difficulties with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviours, which can lead to isolation and emotional problems. They may also have enhanced abilities particularly in auditory and visual perception.
Although structural brain differences have been reported in autism, the reports are inconsistent. The Neuro research team's objective therefore was to investigate neuroanatomical differences using a dual-analytic approach, combining cortical thickness analysis (CT) and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) together for the first time in the same participants. The team studied a group of young adults with autism of average intelligence and similar language ability relative to closely matched typically developing controls.
"The findings are significant from a functional perspective because the anatomical differences are found in brain regions known to play a functional role in the core features of autism such as social communication and repetitive behaviours, says Dr. Krista Hyde, research fellow with Dr. Alan Evans at The Neuro, and lead investigator in the study. "This is the first step to looking for clues or markers that would help
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