Researchers Gain Insight Into Why Brain Areas Fail To Work Together In Autism

nih.gov, Dec 20, 2006

Researchers have found in two studies that autism may involve a lack of connections and coordination in separate areas of the brain.

In people with autism, the brain areas that perform complex analysis appear less likely to work together during problem solving tasks than in people who do not have the disorder, report researchers working in a network funded by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers found that communications between these higher-order centers in the brains of people with autism appear to be directly related to the thickness of the anatomical connections between them.

In a separate report, the same research team found that, in people with autism, brain areas normally associated with visual tasks also appear to be active during language-related tasks, providing evidence to explain a bias towards visual thinking common in autism.

“These findings provide support to a new theory that views autism as a failure of brain regions to communicate with each other,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “The findings may one day provide the basis for improved treatments for autism that stimulate communication between brain areas.” Read more at nih.gov

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