Individuals with autism have been shown to have a difficult time recognizing faces, but two University of Washington researchers now suggest that the problem may be due to a lack of practice, rather than to abnormal functioning of the affected region of the brain.
Previous research, using an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure brain activity, had shown that autistic 3- and 4-year-olds failed to show normal brain response when viewing their mothers picture. However, a recent study released at the AAAS (Triple-A-S) Annual Meeting indicates that with time, a mothers image does activate the part of the temporal lobe implicated in face recognition, even when an unfamiliar face does not. AAAS is the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
"These results suggest that lack of normal activation of the fusiform gyrus in persons with autism may be due to their lack of familiarity and experience with faces rather than an inherent problem with the fusiform," said Geraldine Dawson, who directs the University of Washington Autism Center and who was among the first researchers to suggest that an impairment in face recognition might be one of the earliest signs of autism.
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