New Study Offers New Insights into Children with Autism

Posted on January 7, 2019

Photo: pexels

A team of researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Utah have successfully managed to conduct structural and functional MRI scans on 37 children and adolescents with autism. This was achieved by using a range of procedures targeted at reducing their fears and anxieties. The results thus were able to provide useful insights of the brain of this group of individuals as FMRI was initially near impossible to be conducted on them.

In the past, researchers have conducted structural MRIs on individuals with low verbal and cognitive performance (LVCP) but only under sedation. However, this group of researchers wanted to devise a way to observe their brain activity while these individuals were awake and working. To do so, they created a video that detailed the whole fMRI process so that children could watch it at home repeatedly. Audio files of the possible sounds children would hear in the machine to better prepare themselves were provided as well. The focus was to provide them with more than what they might need to ensure success of a completed scan, they do so by letting them witness how the machine operates when they arrive and giving them reassurance when they were nervous.

Through these scans, these researchers found that the brain’s networks in the LVCP group were not working as in sync as compared to higher performing children with autism and neurotypical children. Their right and left hemisphere also exhibit lower activity. A more interesting finding would be the higher brain network connectivity in the LVCP group than the neurotypical group, something that has been observed clinically but not neurologically.

With these new information, it would enable researchers and practitioners to gain a better understanding of the processes in the brain and what it attends to, enabling them to help improve the lives of individuals with autism, and their families. This however. Is only the beginning as the team looks towards conducting more scans not just on the same population, but on children who are younger, and with even lower language abilities in hopes to discover and learn even more how the brain works in this group of children and adolescents.


Category(s):Autism spectrum disorders

Source material from Science Daily


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