Navigation Links
Autistic Children Have More Gray Matter in Brains
Date:11/28/2007

This imbalance may make it tougher for them to function socially, study suggests

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Children diagnosed with autism have more gray matter in their brains than healthy children, report researchers who used a novel imaging technique to analyze brain structure.

The excess gray matter in the parietal region may make it harder for autistic children to learn how to function socially by watching other people's behaviors, the researchers suggest. In contrast, increased gray matter among healthy children correlated with higher IQ, the researchers said.

The researchers, at the Fay J. Lindner Center for Autism, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Bethpage, N.Y., were to present their findings Nov. 28 at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, in Chicago.

The researchers analyzed the brain images of 13 males who had either high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder in the autism spectrum. The researchers compared the results with images from 12 healthy children who did not have autism. On average, the preteens were 11 years old.

The researchers used a technology called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to produce a visual map of each child's brain. Scientists usually use DTI to visualize the brain's white matter, as well as the brain fibers. However, the research team applied it to the assessment of gray matter by employing apparent diffusion coefficient based morphometry (ABM), a new method that highlights brain regions with potential gray matter volume changes.

They found gray matter abnormalities throughout the brain, but particularly in the parietal lobe, which adds to previous research suggesting that mirror neurons found in that region play a key role in autism.

The increase in gray matter probably affects the action of the mirror neurons, said study investigator Manzar Ashtari, who is now a senior neuroscientist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Mirror neurons are those cells that activate when you perform an action and then see someone else perform the same action, or vice versa. These neurons have been dubbed the "monkey-see, monkey-do" cells.

"Mirror neurons allow us to learn without knowing we are learning and then respond appropriately in certain situations," said Ashtari. She hopes to explore the link between autism and mirror neurons in future studies, using brain imaging techniques to find out when, and if, mirror neurons are engaged at the appropriate times.

The challenge with imaging studies is getting beyond measures of volume to understand smaller and more localized changes, Ashtari said. Adding ABM to DTI gave the study researchers the ability to detect subtle regional or localized changes in the gray matter, which was not possible before, she said.

The brain structures of people with autism change over their life span, explained Ashtari, which poses a problem for researchers trying to understand the disorder. "I believe it's a very complex process the brain goes through with autism and we don't know much" about that process, she said.

Unfortunately, this new imaging technique can't be used to diagnose autism, Ashtari cautioned.

"Everyone is trying to find something that is very robust, to be able to say 'you take this test, do this screening, and then you know,'" she said.

Dr. Stewart H. Mostofsky is a pediatric neurologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. He agreed that it is too soon to use any imaging technique as a part of diagnosing autism.

"We are dealing with a disorder that is defined by symptoms," said Mostofsky, who was not involved in the study. He added that there are many different possible causes of autism, which means many different brain abnormalities. "The question beyond that is whether there is a common neuromechanism. That is not entirely clear. There is no evidence that would support imaging as a diagnostic tool."

Further, he cautioned that the new study had a very small number of high-functioning participants, so conclusions about brain abnormalities cannot be generalized to all people with autism.

Another expert lauded the new findings.

Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, called the new research "a landmark anatomical study which lends support to the increasing evidence that mirror neurons are an underlying cause of autism." He said the finding of excess gray matter suggests that one of the issues with the autistic brain may be a matter of malfunctioning connections between neurons, rather than the neurons themselves.

Ramachandran and his colleagues published work earlier this year in the journal Cognitive Brain Research that suggested that autistic children have a faulty mirror neuron system.

In February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics indicating that one in every 150 American 8-year-olds has autism spectrum disorders. A decade ago, estimates ranged anywhere from one in 500 youngsters to one in 166.

But those new statistics -- from a 14-state survey conducted by the CDC -- failed to clear up the mystery of why autism might be striking more and more children with each passing year.

More information

To learn more about autism, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.



SOURCES: Manzar Ashtari, Ph.D., senior neuroscientist at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia; Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla; Stewart H. Mostofsky, M.D., pediatric neurologist, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore; Nov. 28, 2007, presentation, Radiological Society of North America


'/>"/>
Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Novel Imaging Technique Shows Gray Matter Increase in Brains of Autistic Children
2. Novel imaging technique shows gray matter increase in brains of autistic children
3. Children of depressed moms do better when dad is involved, SLU researcher finds
4. High pollution linked to poor lung function growth in children in Mexico City
5. NYC-area 1st: Morgan Stanley Childrens Hospital performs transcatheter pulmonary valve replacement
6. Obese Children Miss More School Days
7. Ultra-Runner to Run 63 Marathons in 63 Days for Children with Incurable Disease
8. Psoriasis Cure Now offers Back to School Resources for Parents of Children with Psoriasis
9. Researchers estimate about 9 percent of US children age 8 to 15 meet criteria for having ADHD
10. Majority of 2.4 Million U.S. Children With ADHD Not Diagnosed or Consistently Treated, According to New Gold Standard Study by Cincinnati Childrens Researchers
11. Practice-based intervention has sustained benefits for children and families
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Autistic Children Have More Gray Matter in Brains
(Date:1/22/2017)... ... , ... Medical lab testing through hospitals and other traditional methods ... will take days to arrive to the end customer, having to travel through medical ... lab tests, bypassing the cost and delay of traditional means. Now all employees of ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Salveo for life, a company that distributes an effervescent lime-flavored ... States as part of its presence to expand its market reach. , Using a ... productions of nasty toxins as a result of drinking alcohol, eliminating those toxins quickly, ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 21, 2017 , ... Seamild, the ... on the futuristic vision of its owner and founder. As Oat is recognized globally ... to everybody he knows personally as he believes it is a move to sow ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... January 21, 2017 , ... Pacifica Graduate Institute’s ... electrifying line-up of events for its annual meeting “Coming Home 2017,” an activity-packed ... “Coming Home 2017” will be held on Friday January 27 through Sunday, January ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... January 21, 2017 , ... Santa Rosa ... in Petaluma, located at 167 Lynch Creek Way. The Petaluma office features three ... medicine and rehabilitation services and on-site x-ray services. Two multi-specialist orthopaedic surgeons ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Therabron Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage ... in respiratory care, today announced that the European ... has granted Orphan Drug Designation for Therabron,s CG367 ... Syndrome (BOS).  "We are pleased to ... to treat patients diagnosed with BOS following lung ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... , Jan. 23, 2017 LifeVac, the ... a blocked airway and prevented choking deaths, welcomes ... advocate to the LifeVac team as Official Spokesperson. ... join the LifeVac team," said Arthur Lih , ... to represent LifeVac and his mission to raise awareness ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... 23, 2017 Research and Markets has announced the ... - Product - Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... Report Highlights: ... trends to identify the investment opportunities Market forecasts till ... Key market trends across the business segments, Regions and Countries ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: