Video: With autism, altered white matter in brain

CARNEGIE MELLON U. (US) — The brain’s white matter may explain some of autism’s mysteries—from communication disorders to restricted interests.

Click for video: http://youtu.be/eSR94zW8mrA

“In autistic individuals, we can measure the quality of the white matter, and our computer model can predict how coordinated their brain activity will be. This gives us a precise account of the underlying alterations affecting autistic thought,” says psychology professor Marcel Just. (Credit: Carnegie Mellon University)

Autism has long been a scientific enigma, mainly due to its diverse and seemingly unrelated symptoms, until now. The findings also have implications for a number of other psychiatric illnesses that involve white matter deficiencies, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, and could provide a way to relate the anatomical deficiencies to thought processes.

Published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, the research from Marcel Just and his team at Carnegie Mellon University used brain imaging and computer modeling to show how the brain’s white matter tracts—the cabling that connects separated brain areas—are altered in autism and how these alterations can affect brain function and behavior.

The deficiencies affect the tracts’ bandwidth—the speed and rate at which information can travel along the pathways.

“White matter is the unsung hero of the human brain,” says Just, professor of psychology and director of the university’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging.

“In autistic individuals, we can measure the quality of the white matter, and our computer model can predict how coordinated their brain activity will be. This gives us a precise account of the underlying alterations affecting autistic thought.”

 

More at: http://www.futurity.org/health-medicine/with-autism-altered-white-matter-in-brain/

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