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Difficulty in recognizing faces in autism linked to performance in a group of neurons
Date:3/18/2013

chers found that in each autistic participant, behavioral ability to tell faces apart was tightly linked to levels of tuning specificity in the right FFA as estimated with Hcorr. This finding was confirmed by another advanced imaging technique, fMRI rapid adaptation, shown by the group in previous work to be a good estimator of neuronal selectivity.

"Compared to the more well-established fMRI-rapid adaptation technique, Hcorr has several significant advantages," says Jiang. "Hcorr is more sensitive and can estimate neuronal selectivity as well as fMRI rapid adaptation, but with much shorter scans, and Hcorr can even estimate neuronal selectivity using data from resting state scans, thus making the technique suitable even for individuals that cannot perform complicated tasks in the scanner, such as low-functioning autistic adults, or young children."

"The study suggests that, just as in typical adults, the FFA remains the key region responsible for face processing and that changes in neuronal selectivity in this area are foundational to the variability in face processing abilities found in autism. Our study identifies a clear target for intervention," says Riesenhuber. Indeed, after the study was completed, the researchers successfully attempted to improve facial recognition skills in an autistic participant. They showed the participant pairs of faces that were very dissimilar at first, but became increasingly similar, and found that FFA tuning improved along with behavioral ability to tell the faces apart. "This suggests high-level brain areas may still be somewhat plastic in adulthood," says Riesenhuber.


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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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