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:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... A revolution is underway. ... transport experience for the millions of people who require these medical transport services ... industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has put forth an industry-changing ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws ... a new product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula ... , The two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June ... , brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to ... is not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the Maryland ... iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The Wellness ... & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out ... family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers ... would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going to kill them. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ... markets and sells medical devices and wearable sleep respiratory ... strategic cooperation agreement with Hongyuan Supply Chain Management Co., ... June 20, 2016, to develop Dehaier,s new Internet medical ... Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan Supply Chain,s sales platform to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Research ... World Market for Companion Diagnostic Tests" report to their ... Market for Companion Diagnostics The World Market ... and personalized medicine diagnostics. Market analysis in the report includes ... Test Market (In Vitro Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ., (NASDAQ: ... inhaled drugs, announced today that it was added to ... its comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity ... an important milestone for Pulmatrix," said Chief Executive Officer ... of our progress in developing drugs for crucial unmet ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: