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Micromovements hold hidden information about severity of autism, researchers report
Date:12/2/2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- Movements so minute they cannot be detected by the human eye are being analyzed by researchers to diagnose autism spectrum disorder and determine its severity in children and young adults, according to research presented at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in November.

The research is the work of Jorge V. Jos, Ph.D., vice president of research at Indiana University, and Elizabeth Torres, Ph.D., the principal investigator for the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. They are building on earlier findings involving the random nature of movements of people with autism. The work was presented in a poster by biophysics and neuroscience Ph.D. graduate student Di Wu, who works in Dr. Jos's lab.

Earlier research looked at the speed maximum and randomness of movement during a computer exercise that involved tracking the motions of youths with autism when touching an image on the screen to indicate a decision. That research was reported in July in the Nature journal Frontiers of Neuroscience.

In the new study, the researchers looked at the entire movement involved in raising and extending a hand to touch a computer screen. The device they use can record 240 frames per second, which allows them to measure speed changes in the millisecond range.

"We looked at the curve going up and the curve going down and studied the micromovements," said Dr. Jos, who also is the James H. Rudy Distinguished Professor of Physics in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of cellular and integrative physiology at the IU School of Medicine.

"When a person reaches for an object, the speed trajectory is not one smooth curve; it has some irregular random movements we call 'jitter,'" he said. "We looked at the properties of those very small fluctuations and identified patterns." Those patterns or signatures als
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Contact: Mary Hardin
mhardin@iu.edu
317-274-5456
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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