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Bradley Hospital researchers find age-related changes in how autism affects the brain
Date:3/13/2013

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. Newly released findings from Bradley Hospital published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry have found that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect the brain activity of children and adults differently.

In the study, titled "Developmental Meta-Analysis of the Functional Neural Correlates of Autism Spectrum Disorders," Daniel Dickstein, M.D., FAAP, director of the Pediatric Mood, Imaging and Neurodevelopment Program at Bradley Hospital, found that autism-related changes in brain activity continue into adulthood.

"Our study was innovative because we used a new technique to directly compare the brain activity in children with autism versus adults with autism," said Dickstein. "We found that brain activity changes associated with autism do not just happen in childhood, and then stop. Instead, our study suggests that they continue to develop, as we found brain activity differences in children with autism compared to adults with autism. This is the first study to show that."

This new technique, a meta-analysis, which is a study that compiles pre-existing studies, provided researchers with a powerful way to look at potential differences between children and adults with autism.

Dickstein conducted the research through Bradley Hospital's PediMIND Program. Started in 2007, this program seeks to identify biological and behavioral markersscans and teststhat will ultimately improve how children and adolescents are diagnosed and treated for psychiatric conditions. Using special computer games and brain scans, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Dickstein hopes to one day make the diagnosis and treatment of autism and other disorders more specific and more effective.

Among autism's most disabling symptoms is a disruption in social skills, so it is noteworthy that this study found significantly less brain activity in autistic children than autistic adults dur
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Contact: Jill Reuter
jreuter@lifespan.org
401-444-6863
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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