New approach to detect autism earlier

January 24, 2008

A new way of understanding autistic disorders, incorporating both psychological and biological factors, could lead to the conditions being picked up earlier, research from UNSW has found.

A review of research, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, integrates psychological with biological theories of autism.

The work relates to autistic and Asperger’s disorders, which are characterised by ritualistic behaviours – such as counting, tapping, flicking, or repeatedly restating information – and compulsive behaviours including as a rigid adherence to routine and a marked resistance to change.

“Until now we have relied mostly on psychological approaches in making a diagnosis, but this needs to be incorporated with the biological approach – utilising information from brain mapping technology,” says the paper’s author, Professor Florence Levy, from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry.

“This may help medical professionals detect conditions such as Asperger’s Disorder at an earlier stage.

“This won’t prevent it from developing, but it will help with remediation. It will also help to provide explanations to parents, who may have been worried about their child’s behaviour.”

The review found that psychological theories such as ‘Theory of Mind’ alone have difficulty accounting for the rigid and repetitive behaviours found in autistic disorders.

Studies of the brain, however, can offer an explanation.

“When the developing brain encounters constrained connectivity, it evolves an abnormal organisation, the features of which may be best explained by a developmental failure of neural connectivity, where high local connectivity develops in tandem with low long-range connectivity, resulting in constricted repetitive behaviours,” she writes.

The research does not identify what causes the constrained connectivity.

Source: University of New South Wales

Explore further: Neuroscience-based algorithms make for better networks

Related Stories

Neuroscience-based algorithms make for better networks

July 9, 2015

When it comes to developing efficient, robust networks, the brain may often know best. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have, for the first time, determined the rate ...

Keen sense of touch guides nimble bat flight

April 30, 2015

Bats fly with breathtaking precision because their wings are equipped with highly sensitive touch sensors, cells that respond to even slight changes in airflow, researchers have demonstrated for the first time.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.