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Carnegie Mellon researchers discover key deficiencies in brains of people with autism

gize and plan several moves ahead.

The experiment confirmed the authors' previous findings that people with autism suffer from a lack of synchronization among brain regions, which helps to explain why some people with autism have normal or even superior skills in some areas, while many other types of thinking are disordered. In addition, their findings particularly implicate the lower synchronization between the frontal cortex and other portions of the brain. They have discovered that key portions of the corpus callosum seem to play a role in the limitation on synchronization. In people with autism, anatomical connectivity -- based on the size of the white matter -- was found to be positively correlated with functional connectivity, which is the synchronization of the active brain regions. They also found that the functional connectivity was lower in those participants in whom the autism was more severe. The study will be published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

The second study, to be published in the journal Brain, examined a long-standing belief, supported through scientific research as well as anecdotal accounts, that people with autism rely heavily on visualization to process information. Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University who has autism, says in her autobiography "Thinking in Pictures" that "Words are like a second language to me. ?When someone speaks to me, his words are instantly translated into pictures."

To test this relationship between the language and visuospatial systems of the brain, the team used fMRI scans to view the patterns of activation in the brains of autistic and normal participants while they read a series of sentences to determine whether each one was true or false. The sentences either had high imagery content ("The number eight when rotated 90 degrees looks like a pair of eyeglasses") or low imagery content ("Addition, subtraction and multiplication are all math skills.")

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Source:Carnegie Mellon University


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