Autism Can Be Detected Through Brain Scans For Most Infants
When it comes to autism (or any other condition, for that matter), early intervention is the best way to go. Although biological causes of autism keep on being a mystery and posing some real problems to scientists, it seems that they have found a way to accurately identify a neurological sign of autism in very young toddlers.
In the study made, the researchers discovered that children with autism showed important signs of weaker synchronization between brain areas tied to language and communication, in comparison to non-autistic children. They researchers discovered this by scanning the brain activity of the children involved in the study, while they were sleeping. “Identifying biological signs of autism has been a major goal for many scientists around the world, both because they may allow early diagnosis, and because they can provide researchers with important clues about the causes and development of the disorder,” said Ilan Dinstein, Ph.D.
Throughout time, researchers have strived to find ways to make children (who are known not to have any patience at all) keep still while they scanned their brain. However, everything failed. Although it was known that the brain of autistic children is different in matters of activity from the brain of non-autistic children, no evidence had been given until now. Now, the group of researchers at the Weizmann Institute’s Neurobiology Department found a way to make this happen – they put the kids to sleep and only then did they proceed in scanning their brains.
Given that prior studies had shown that the brain does not shut down when people are sleeping, the researchers took advantage of this particular knowledge and decided to give it a try, to find out whether the theory that suggested that children with autism had different brain activity than non-autistic children was true. Thus, they proceeded in scanning the brain of the sleeping toddlers. What they found out, through the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, was that these children showed weaker signs of synchronization between the two areas of the brain involved in communication and language. Worth mentioning is the fact that this particular pattern has not been seen in children who did not suffer from autism. Even more, what the researchers discovered was that the weaker the synchronization was between the two parts of the brain, the more severe symptoms of autism the children had. A remarkable fact is that through these brain scans, the researchers were able to identify up to 70 percent of the children with autism, with ages ranging from one to three years.
The conclusion of the researchers was that they hoped that this new finding would help doctors develop a more advanced technique of dealing with autistic children and they also hope that new intervention measures would appear soon, in order to maybe prevent the condition from happening. However, further research must be made on the study, but the most important things has been discovered: children with autism can be detected through some simple brain scans and that from an early age.11