Researchers from the University of Washington's Autism Center will report today at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on the first study that measures neural activity by using high-resolution electroencephalography (EEG) to examine connections in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that deals with higher cognitive processes.
Compared to normally developing individuals, the scientists found patterns of abnormal connectivity between brain regions in people with autism. These abnormalities showed both over and under connectivity between neurons in different parts of the cortex, according to Michael Murias, a postdoctoral researcher who headed the study.
"Our findings indicate adults with autism show differences in coordinated neural activity," said Murias, "which implies poor internal communication between the parts of the brain."
The UW researchers analyzed EEGs from 36 adults, ranging in age from 19 to 38. Half the adults had autism and all had IQs of at least 80. The EEGs, which measure the activity of hundreds of millions of brain cells, were collected with an array of 124 electrodes while the people were seated and relaxed with their eyes closed for two minutes.
The researchers found patterns of higher than normal neural connectivity in the left hemisphere, particularly in the temporal lobe of the persons with autism within two different frequencies of brain waves, the delta and theta bands. This part of the brain is associated with language, which is impaired in many people with autism.
A global pattern of decreased neural connectivity between the frontal lobes and the rest of autistic brain showed up on the alpha wave band. These findings support 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.
Joel Schwarz | EurekAlert!
NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences