Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Imaging Technique To Discover Connection Differences in Brains of People With Autism

25.10.2006
Using a new form of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), researchers in the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that the so-called white matter in the brains of people with autism has lower structural integrity than in the brains of normal individuals. This provides further evidence that the anatomical differences characterizing the brains of people with autism are related to the way those brains process information.

The results of this latest study were published in the journal NeuroReport. The scientists used DTI — which tracks the movement of water through brain tissue — to measure the structural integrity of the white matter that acts as cables to wire the parts of the brain together.

Normally, water molecules move, or diffuse, in a direction parallel to the orientation of the nerve fibers of the white matter. They're aided by the coherent structure of the fibers and a process called myelination, in which a sheath is formed around the fibers that speeds nerve impulses. The movement of water is more dispersed if the structural integrity of the tissue is low — i.e., if the fibers are less dense, less coherently organized, or less myelinated — as it was with the participants with autism in the Carnegie Mellon study. Researchers found this dispersed pattern particularly in areas in and around the corpus callosum, the large band of nerve fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain.

"These reductions in white matter integrity may underlie the behavioral pattern observed in autism of narrowly focused thought and weak coherence of different streams of thought," said Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging and a co-author of the latest study. "The new findings also provide supporting evidence for a new theory of autism that attributes the disorder to underconnectivity among brain regions," Just said.

In 2004, Just and his colleagues proposed the underconnectivity theory based on a groundbreaking study in which they discovered abnormalities in the white matter that suggested a lack of coordination among brain areas in people with autism. This theory helps explain a paradox of autism: Some people with autism have normal or even superior skills in some areas, while many other types of thinking are disordered.

Last summer, Just led a team of researchers that found for the first time that the abnormality in synchronization among brain areas is related to the abnormality in the white matter. They discovered that key portions of the corpus callosum seem to play a role in the limitation on synchronization. In people with autism, anatomical connectivity — based on the size of the white matter — was found to be positively correlated with functional connectivity, which is the synchronization of the active brain regions. They also found that the functional connectivity was lower in those participants in whom the autism was more severe.

These studies, along with the latest paper, are providing a comprehensive picture of the autistic brain, whose components operate with less coordination than is normally the case, and which is less reliant on frontal components and more reliant on posterior components. The latest DTI finding shows that some of the frontal-posterior communication fiber tracts are abnormal, consistent with the lower degree of frontal-posterior coordination.

"The brain components in autism function more like a jam session and less like a symphony," Just said.

The latest study was co-authored by Rajesh K. Kana and Timothy A. Keller of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging. This research was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Jonathan Potts | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>