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Brain Regions Do Not Communicate Efficiently in Adults with Autism

rt several other studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography, both of which gauge brain activity by measuring blood flow. Post-mortem studies also suggest impairments in communication at the level of individual brain cells.

This over and under abundance of neural connections suggests inefficient and inconsistent communication inside the brains of people with autism and may explain some of the deficits shown by people who have the disorder.

The research has practical applications. Murias believes the abnormal patterns of brain activity are a potential biological marker of autism and may help to define the phenotype, or major characteristics, of autism. UW colleagues think EEG techniques can be used on young children to help in the early detection of autism, which is critical in providing interventions for the disorder.

Other members of the research team are from the UW’s Autism Center and include Geraldine Dawson, center director and a professor of psychology; Sara Webb, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Jessica Greenson, research scientist; and Kristen Merkle, research study assistant. The National Institute of Mental Health’s Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment and the Perry Research Fellowship Endowment funded the research.

Autism, a spectrum of developmental disorders, is the most common developmental disorder in the United States. It is estimated to affect one in every 166 children. Autism is characterized by an inability to communicate and interact with other people, and those afflicted typically have a restricted range of activities and interests.

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