New method detects biological sign of autism in young toddlers
Washington, July 26: For the first time, scientists have found a method that can accurately identify a biological sign of autism in very young toddlers.
Until know the biological causes of autism were not understood and diagnosis of autism was only possible after ages three or four; and the tests are subjective, based on behavioural symptoms.
By scanning the brain activity of sleeping children, the scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, San Diego, discovered that the autistic brains exhibited significantly weaker synchronization between brain areas tied to language and communication, compared to that of non-autistic children.
â€śIdentifying biological signs of autism has been a major goal for many scientists around the world, both because they may allow early diagnosis, and because they can provide researchers with important clues about the causes and development of the disorder,â€ť postdoctoral fellow Dr. Ilan Dinstein, who was involved in the study, said.
In sleeping autistic toddlers, the fMRI scans showed lowered levels of synchronization between the left and right brain areas known to be involved in language and communication.
This pattern was not seen either in children with normal development or in those with delayed language development who were not autistic.
In fact, the researchers found that this synchronization was strongly tied to the autistic childâ€™s ability to communicate: The weaker the synchronization, the more severe were the symptoms of autism.
On the basis of the scans, the scientists were able to identify 70 percent of the autistic children between the ages of one and three.
The study was published in Neuron. (ANI)