Navigation Links
Autistic brains develop more slowly than healthy brains UCLA researchers say
Date:10/20/2011

Researchers at UCLA have found a possible explanation for why autistic children act and think differently than their peers. For the first time, they've shown that the connections between brain regions that are important for language and social skills grow much more slowly in boys with autism than in non-autistic children.

Reporting in the current online edition of the journal Human Brain Mapping, senior author Jennifer G. Levitt, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA; first author Xua Hua, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher; and colleagues found aberrant growth rates in areas of the brain implicated in the social impairment, communication deficits and repetitive behaviors that characterize autism.

Autism is thought to affect one in 110 children in the U.S., and many experts believe the numbers are growing. Despite its prevalence, little is known about the disorder, and no cure has been discovered.

Normally, as children grow into teenagers, the brain undergoes major changes. This highly dynamic process depends on the creation of new connections, called white matter, and the elimination, or "pruning," of unused brain cells, called gray matter. As a result, our brains work out the ideal and most efficient ways to understand and respond to the world around us.

Although most children with autism are diagnosed before they are 3 years old, this new study suggests that delays in brain development continue into adolescence.

"Because the brain of a child with autism develops more slowly during this critical period of life, these children may have an especially difficult time struggling to establish personal identity, develop social interactions and refine emotional skills," Hua said. "This new knowledge may help to explain some of the symptoms of autism and could improve future treatment options."

The researchers used a type of brain-imaging scan called a T1-weighted MRI, which can map structural changes during brain development. To study how the brains of boys with autism changed over time, they scanned 13 boys diagnosed with autism and a control group of seven non-autistic boys on two separate occasions. The boys ranged in age from 6 to 14 at the time of the first scan; on average, they were scanned again approximately three years later.

By scanning the boys twice, the scientists were able to create a detailed picture of how the brain changes during this critical period of development.

Besides seeing that the white-matter connections between those brain regions that are important for language and social skills were growing much slower in the boys with autism, they found a second anomaly: In two areas of the brain the putamen, which is involved in learning, and the anterior cingulate, which helps regulate both cognitive and emotional processing unused cells were not properly pruned away.

"Together, this creates unusual brain circuits, with cells that are overly connected to their close neighbors and under-connected to important cells further away, making it difficult for the brain to process information in a normal way," Hua said.

"The brain regions where growth rates were found to be the most altered were associated with the problems autistic children most often struggle with social impairment, communication deficits and repetitive behavior," she added.

Future studies using alternative neuroscience techniques should attempt to identify the source of this white-matter impairment, the researchers said.

"This study provides a new understanding of how the brains of children with autism are growing and developing in a unique way," Levitt said. "Brain imaging could be used to determine if treatments are successful at addressing the biological difference. The delayed brain growth in autism may also suggest a different approach for educational intervention in adolescent and adult patients, since we now know their brains are wired differently to perceive information."


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Children with autistic traits remain undiagnosed
2. Thanks to a New Stem Cell Therapy, a 9-year Old Autistic Boy Talks to his Father for the First Time
3. Grandparents Play Vital Role for Autistic Children
4. Parents of Autistic Children Turning to Alternative Treatments
5. Eliminating Wheat, Milk From Diet Doesnt Help Autistic Kids
6. An Autistic Child Doesnt Mean Parents Will Divorce
7. Autistic Kids Often Fussier Eaters, but Nutrition OK
8. Autistic Toddlers Prefer to Gaze at Geometric Patterns: Study
9. Autistic Children Dont Seem to Yawn Contagiously
10. Siblings of Autistic Children May Also Have Subtle Traits
11. For Autistic Kids, IQ May Not Predict School Achievement
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... On Dec. 2, 2016, ... Rock Hotel San Diego honoring the 2016 MPN Heroes—eight individuals who have made a ... going above and beyond the standard of care, demonstrating leadership within the MPN community ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... Advanced Inc., a leading provider ... Jason Bice, CPA, MBA to serve as Advanced Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer, effective December ... , Jason brings extensive financial and operational leadership experience to Advanced Inc. He began ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , ... December 02, 2016 , ... The annual time ... Period (or Annual Election Period), is ending December 7th. Currently-enrolled Medicare beneficiaries who are ... or prescription drug plan (Part D) need to make changes during this period order ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 02, 2016 , ... ... inspirational interview of two ostomy patients, standing as living proof that attitude and ... from digestive diseases and issues that spike around the holidays. This campaign will ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... Mediaplanet is proud to ... which covers the innovative treatments, therapeutic technologies, and revolutionized nutrition that are helping ... prolonging life 6 years in the last 3 decades,” says Dr. Valentine Fuster, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... largest share in the ECG Cables And ECG Leadwires Market ... monitoring ECG devices. On the other hand, the ... highest growth rate during the forecast period. The ... (U.S.), Medtronic plc ( Ireland ), Koninklijke Philips ... International Limited ( China ), held major share ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... -- Quantum Radiology,s Mobile Breast Center (QR MBC) brings ... women at the workplace, thereby maximizing convenience and compliance.  ... Lines and SunTrust Bank, and community health groups to ... initiatives. "I think it,s a great service ... have a mammogram without taking a large amount of ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , Dec. 2, 2016  Eli Lilly and ... financial guidance for 2017 and provide updated financial guidance ... also conduct a conference call on that day with ... company,s financial guidance. The conference call will ... general public can access a live webcast of the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: