Brain Scan Reveals Why Language Skills can’t be Acquired by Some Autistic Kids and What to do About it

Image shows patterns of brain activation in general developing, ages 12-29 months toddlers has ASD “Good” and ASD “Poor” language ability in response to speech sounds during their earliest brain scan. Photo courtesy of UCSD News Center

Reported Thursday by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers, a brain scan established to toddlers who are on the autism range can predict the child’s future language.

A study promulgated in the online edition of the journal Neuron shows a strong relationship between irregularities in speech activation of the temporal cortex area of the brain and actual language ability in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder.

Eric Courchesne, neurosciences professor and the Autism Center of Excellence co-director at UCSD, said “We wish to see if patterns of brain activity in response to language can explain and however can predict well language skills that would develop in toddler with ASD before they actually began talking”.

Autism — aforesaid to be present in about out of 68 children in the United States — gives difficulties to scientists since it presents itself in a variety of ways, and may be difficult to detect in a very young children.

Courchesne said language may be a prime example.

“Some persons are minimally verbal throughout life. They expose high levels of symptom severity and will have poor clinical outcomes,” Courchene said. “Others exposed delayed early language development, then again progressively get language skills and have relatively more positive clinical outcomes.”

Neurosciences associate professor and Autism Center of Excellence co-director, Karen Pierce, said it’s significant to formulate more and new biological ways to identify and “stratify” the ASD population into clinical sub-types so the patients can receive better, more individualized treatments.

The researchers used a functional magnetic vibrant imaging device to measure the neural systematic response to speech in toddlers 1 and 2-year-old, and compared them with assessments on children of the same language skills two years later.

Based on research, children with diminished or abnormal speech reactions had poor language skills in the subsequent test. However, those with reactions closer to children who aren’t on the range did better.

Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and University of Cambridge scientists who assisted with the study, that was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Foundation for Autism Research, Jesus College of Cambridge and the British Academy.



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