Brain Responses | Autism Studies

Autism | Adults with Autism | The Maher Law Firm“High functioning adults with autism exhibited variable brain responses to visual and auditory stimuli”

In an article by Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today; suggests that autism may involve specific alterations in neural processing.

Ilan Dinstein, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and colleagues, reported in Neuron, that serial MRI brain scans detected variability, or unreliability, pertained only to evoked responses, not ongoing fluctuations in activity.

Autism, research has always seemed to follow two distinct pathways, which are each based on the premise that autism results from disordered general neural processing, although there has always been a distinct lack of information.

Dr. Dinstein and colleagues sought to address the lack of information by examining the reliability of evoked responses in adults with autism.  In doing so, they used MRI to study cortical responses in visual, auditory, and somatosensory systems of 14 high-functioning adults with autism and 14 IQ-matched adults without autism.

Each participant completed three experiments:

    1. A visual stimulus involving moving white dots
    2. An auditory stimulus consisting of a series of pure tone beeps in both ears
    3. A somatosensory stimulus in the form of air puffs from a hose of the back of a participant’s hand

Cortical responses were captured by functional MRI.  The mean response amplitudes across the three sensory experiments did not differ between the participants with autism and the participants without autism. However, there were significant differences in the reliability of responses in the autistic group.

“These findings reveal that abnormally unreliable cortical responses, even to elementary nonsocial sensory stimuli, may represent a fundamental physiological alteration of neural process in autism, these results motivate a critical expansion of autism research to determine whether (and how) basic neural processing properties such as reliability, plasticity, and adaptation/habituation are altered in autism.”

To read the full article please click here.

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