Out Of Sync Brains Provide Clues to Autism

Filed under: In The News

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Pop quiz: Your child has autism because:

A. He is allergic to turkey.

B. Small pox vaccines are evil!

C. He was born on the 8th of the month, and, according to your study of numerology, that's bad.

Sorry. The answer is none of the above. These are all popular straws parents like to grasp to explain why their child is different, but science has another answer.

Your child is different because he is different.

His brain is just a tad out of sync with most of the other brains on this particular planet. If this were the planet of the Autisticons, the rest of us would be the odd ducks -- what with our seemingly indifferent attitude toward trains.

WebMD reports autistic people's slightly out of sync brains might provide a greater -- if slightly less dramatic -- insight into the condition than food allergies and numerology.

Researchers working through the University of California found toddlers with autism are more likely to have abnormal synchronization between certain brain areas than other kids the same age -- even those with language delays.

"There seems to be impaired or reduced synchronization between the right and left hemispheres, specifically the areas involved in language and communication," researcher Ilan Dinstein, a postdoctoral fellow at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, tells WebMD.

However, if you're really into your turkey allergy theory, you don't have to abandon it just yet.

WebMD reports researchers found a link between the abnormality and autism. What they did not find is a cause and effect. Nonetheless, Dinstein tells the website the discovery may help experts develop tools to diagnose autism earlier.

Synchronization helps coordinate the brain's different tasks, Dinstein explains.

"Your brain is set up to do specific tasks," he tells WebMD. "While all these different parts are doing different things, they have to be coordinated."

Researchers examined 72 toddlers, 29 of whom had been diagnosed with autism. WebMD reports the abnormal synchronization was evident in 70 percent of those with autism.

"Some have described autism as a 'developmental disconnection syndrome' because several studies have found that there is a failure of long-range connectivity between different brain regions in autism," Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, tells WebMD. "This helps explain why people with autism have trouble with complex behaviors, such as social interaction and language, which require coordinated activity across several brain regions."

Dinson tells WebMD more research is needed.

"The fact that this phenomenon is evident in 70 percent of kids does not mean it is the biology causing the autism," he says. "There could be a different biological mechanism causing both the autism and the reduced synchronization."

Still, it probably has little to do with numerology.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.