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New brain imaging and computer modeling predicts autistic brain activity and behavior
Date:3/6/2012

areas in individual people with autism.

The computer model is able to solve some visual puzzles called the Tower of London (used in neuropsychological testing of frontal lobe function) through the coordinated activity of several computational systems which correspond to frontal and posterior brain areas. The model makes it possible to manipulate the communication bandwidth between the frontal and posterior areas. The findings were that the inter-regional synchronization of activation in a particular individual's brain could be predicted by calibrating the model's frontal-posterior communication bandwidth to the quality of that individual's white matter. Furthermore, the autism model solved the problems by relying less on frontal executive functioning and more on posterior "visual thinking."

"The brain's processing of social information is performed by a network of areas, some of which are frontal, and some of which are posterior," Just explained. "Social impairments in autism are likely caused by the poor frontal-posterior connectivity. Similarly, language comprehension is performed by a network of frontal and posterior areas, and once again, poor connectivity may impair that network's functioning."

Just added, "This tells us where the problem lies in autism. We can now focus on designing therapies that attempt to either improve the white matter something we have already proven is possible through behavioral interventions or help the brain develop work-around strategies."

In a groundbreaking study published in 2009, Just and his colleagues showed for the first time that compromised white matter in children with reading difficulties could be repaired with extensive behavioral therapy. Their imaging study showed that the brain locations that had been abnormal prior to the remedial training improved to normal levels after the training, and the reading performance in individual children improved by an amount that corresponded to the
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Contact: Shilo Rea
shilo@cmu.edu
412-268-6094
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert  

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