Those are the findings of a new study led by University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers and published online March 20 by the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Splenium of the Corpus Callosum: This is a white matter fiber bundle that supports visual orienting in typically developing infants and may be implicated in the early development of autism spectrum disorders.
Credit: Jason Wolff, Ph.D., UNC
"These findings suggest that 7-month-olds who go on to develop autism show subtle, yet overt, behavioral differences prior to the emergence of the disorder. They also implicate a specific neural circuit, the splenium of the corpus callosum, which may not be functioning as it does in typically developing infants, who show more rapid orienting to visual stimuli," said Jed T. Elison, PhD, first author of the study.
Elison worked on the study, conducted as part of the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) Network, for his doctoral dissertation at UNC. He now is a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. The study's senior author is Joseph Piven, MD, professor of psychiatry, director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at UNC, and the principle investigator of the IBIS Network.
The IBIS Network consists of research sites at UNC, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University, and the University of Alberta are currently recruiting younger siblings of children with autism and their families for ongoing research.
"Difficulty in shifting gaze and attention that we found in 7-month-olds may be a fundamental problem in autism," Piven said. "Our hope is that this finding may help lead us to early detection and interventions that could improve outcomes for individuals with autism and their families."
The study included 97 infants: 16 high-risk infants later classified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 40 high-risk infants not meeting ASD criteria (i.e., high-risk-negative) and 41 low-risk infants. For this study, infants participated in an eye-tracking test and a brain scan at 7 months of age a clinical assessment at 25 months of age.
The results showed that the high-risk infants later found to have ASD were slower to orient or shift their gaze (by approximately 50 miliseconds) than both high-risk-negative and low-risk infants. In addition, visual orienting ability in low-risk infants was uniquely associated with a specific neural circuit in the brain: the splenium of the corpus callosum. This association was not found in infants later classified with ASD.
The study concluded that atypical visual orienting is an early feature of later emerging ASD and is associated with a deficit in a specific neural circuit in the brain.
Funding support for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, Autism Speaks and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.
Tom Hughes | EurekAlert!
Catalysts for climate protection
19.08.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
From the tiny testes of flies, new insight into how genes arise
19.08.2019 | Rockefeller University
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.
Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...
Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.
Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...
Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.
The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...
An international team of scientists involving the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has unraveled the light-induced electron-localization dynamics in transition metals at the attosecond timescale. The team investigated for the first time the many-body electron dynamics in transition metals before thermalization sets in. Their work has now appeared in Nature Physics.
The researchers from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the MPSD (Germany), the Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba (Japan) and the Center for...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
19.08.2019 | Information Technology
19.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.08.2019 | Life Sciences