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What Part Of The Brain Does Autism Affect

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What Does Autism Look Like In The Brain

Autism & Pediatric Diseases : What Parts of the Brain Does Autism Affect?

People on the autism spectrum often dislike exposure to unexpected stimuli, but why is that? New research takes a look at what happens in the brain, and how that relates to a persons ability to tolerate exposure to various stimuli.

People with autism do not like unexpected stimuli, and it may be because brains are not as efficient at rapidly shifting between ideas or thoughts, notes Dr. Jeff Anderson, a professor in Radiology at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City.

Recently, Dr. Anderson and colleagues decided to try and gain a better understanding as to why individuals with autism may experience some of their symptoms.

To do so, they directed their attention to the complex circuitry of the human brain. We wondered if we could see how local circuits in the brain react in patients with autism, explains the researcher.

The research team reports the

Autism & The Lobes Of The Brain

Additionally, within each hemisphere of the brain, there are four lobes: the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. Within these lobes are structures that control everything the body does, from movement to thinking. On top of the lobes is the cerebral cortex, where information processing takes place.

The greater the surface area of the cerebral cortex, the more information the brain is capable of processing. The brain has folds, to add to the surface area of the cerebral cortex. Researchers at San Diego State University have found evidence that suggests that the folds develop differently in people with autism. In autistic brains, there is much more folding in some of both the left and right lobes.

The changes have been connected to modifications in network connectivity in neurons. The weaker a connection, the deeper the folds are. Other research has indicated that language production and processing are altered.

Yet, says PsyCom, the neurobiology of an autistic brain is still hidden. Some experts have said that the more they study brains affected by autism, the more they realize that it may not be so much about the hardware as the software. It may be that the timing of the brain activity is different, affecting how the signals from one region of the brain being sent to another get distorted. It might be that as the autistic brain ages, the aging process brings about more changes that impact the development of autistic symptoms.

Autism Diagnosis And Prevalence

Autism diagnosis has traditionally been most common in childhood, when differences from neurotypical peers may first become obvious. However, in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the rate of adult diagnosis, particularly as diagnostic criteria have been broadened such that individuals who may not have received an autism diagnosis in childhood may now meet current diagnostic criteria . Note: we use autism to refer to the clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, as some members of the autism community feel the label disorder produces stigma and emphasises the difficulties associated with autism while minimising the strengths. For similar reasons, we use identity-first language throughout to respect the preferences of a majority of autistic people . Changes to diagnostic criteria which are linked to an increase in overall diagnostic levels include the integration of previously separate diagnostic categories into one autism spectrum disorder category . There have been many studies examining the needs and experiences of individuals who seek an autism diagnosis in adulthood . In particular, there has been a focus on the difficulties experienced by autistic women in obtaining autism diagnoses, for reasons which will be discussed in greater detail below.

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Testable Predictions And Directions For Future Research

The four social brain regions are predicted to be impaired to varying degrees in ASD, independent of the causal mechanism involved. Their integrity may be indexed by stimulation of multiple sensory systems and neuroimaging, which are predicted to reveal some abnormal or blunted responses in the four social brain regions, relative to those in TD controls. Diverse sensory deficits in ASD are reported in the literature, but evidence is unsystematic and mostly gained through questionnaire methodologies, which are unsatisfactory . Systematic studies using objective, quantitative, and standardized paradigms are needed to characterize comprehensively and quantitatively the sensory system deficits in ASD individuals . Further, studies of sensory system disruptions may cast light on the causation of the amygdala cellular abnormalities that chiefly affect the lateral amygdaloid nucleus, which receives the heaviest sensory inputs .

TPC disruption is hypothesized to participate in multiple ASD features. There is some evidence of impaired body representation in ASD but little formal study. Such deficits may be examined by requiring ASD individuals to point to various body parts, or to estimate their sizes, as well as semi-structured interview covering body knowledge, difficulties in dressing, and other body-related functions. Such findings may also provide insights into aspects of daily living impairments, which may be measured with the Waisman Activities of Daily Living Scale .

Summary And Proposed Pathogenic Mechanism

Autistically Beautiful : Parts of the Brain Affected by Autism

ASD symptomatology comprises sensory, motor, cognitive, emotional, repetitive behavior, difficulties in daily living, social, and language categories of symptoms, so extends well beyond just social symptoms. Particular symptoms may occur frequently but not universally across ASD individuals, and conversely the pattern of symptoms across ASD individuals is enormously heterogeneous . Further, many studies have reported contradictory findings, in part for methodological reasons. In addition, some symptoms are under-studied, as with abnormalities of interoception of hunger, thirst, body temperature, and other bodily variables, as well as impairments of body representation. Taken together, much has been learned but more remains to be learned about the symptoms and features of ASD.

Summary of disrupted neurocircuitry. Four social brain regions are commonly disrupted and these disruptions and the resulting symptoms drive additional abnormalities of the visual cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, caudate nucleus, and hippocampus. ASD, autism spectrum disorders; IFG, inferior frontal gyrus; OFC, orbitofrontal cortex; TPC, temporoparietal cortex; VC, visual cortex.

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Autism Is A Complex Disorder Of The Central Nervous System

The nervous system is a complicated network and in cases of autism, the system becomes disrupted. The disruption leads to changes in the way the brain is “wired” to process information. The differences can lead to social dysfunction, self stimulatory behaviors and language problems.

Researchers are trying to find the possible causes of autism and it appears that some individuals are genetically susceptible to have the neuro-developmental disorder. Among the issues researchers are exploring are inflammation in the brain.

The Brain Of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

24 August, 2020

If the brain of a child with autism spectrum disorder was a house, every room would be filled with noise, itd have complex wiring all over it, and its walls would be very sensitive to almost any stimulus. This excess of synapses or neural connections produces particular alterations in every child.

Scientific advances dont really matter. Its useless to continue learning about these neurological development disorders that affect a significant part of our population. The lack of awareness, stereotypes, and the misconceptions that we have about those who suffer from these disorders keep us from appreciating them as they are.

Undoubtedly, the problematic behavior of children and teenagers with ASD can put our patience to the test. They may have a privileged mind or serious intellectual deficits. However, despite their ever-so-enigmatic world, they surprise us with their strengths, sensibilities, needs, and affection.

Their families are commendable. They promote ceaseless and energetic love that not only has to deal with stereotypes, but also tries to create alliances with other social agents: doctors, specialists, teachers, psychologists, and everyone else whos devoted to these children.

Therefore, we can help them by trying to better understand their internal reality. Lets delve deeper into this.

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Brain Structure Changes In Autism Explained

by Angie Voyles Askham;/;15 October 2020
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Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition. Although it is diagnosed based on the presence of two core behaviors restricted interests and repetitive behaviors, as well as difficulties with social interactions and communication those traits are thought to arise because of alterations in how different parts of the brain form and connect to one another.

No research has uncovered a characteristic brain structure for autism, meaning that no single pattern of changes appears in every autistic person. Studies of brain structure often turn up dissimilar results there is great variety across individuals in general. But some trends have begun to emerge for subsets of autistic people. These differences might one day provide some insight into how some autistic peoples brains function. They may also point to bespoke treatments for particular subtypes of autism.

Here is what we know about how brain structure differs between people with and without autism.

Which brain regions are known to be structurally different betweenautistic and non-autistic people?Studies that make use of a brain-scanning technique called magnetic resonance imaging have highlighted a few brain regions that are structurally distinct in people with autism.

Other structural differences, such as the rate of brain growth and amount of cerebrospinal fluid, appear similar between the sexes6,9.


Do These Differences Impact Symptoms

How Does Autism Affect the Brain? Part 1 of 2 | SCIENCE CAFE

Most likely the result of these connections manifest into the signs and the symptoms that we see. However, Dr. Anderson cautions that it is hard to know exactly what brain connection correlates to what sign. Ultimately, theres still an awful lot that we need to know, he says. Just looking at that brain imaging, we arent really able to explain all of the behaviors that we see.

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Autism Is Not Just A Disorder Of The Brain Mouse Study Suggests

Cell Press
Autism spectrum disorders are generally thought to be caused by deficits in brain development, but a study in mice now suggests that at least some aspects of the disorder — including how touch is perceived, anxiety, and social abnormalities — are linked to defects in another area of the nervous system, the peripheral nerves found throughout the limbs, digits, and other parts of the body that communicate sensory information to the brain.

Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by impaired social interactions and repetitive behaviors, often accompanied by abnormal reactions to sensory stimuli. ASD is generally thought to be caused by deficits in brain development, but a study in mice, published June 9 in Cell, now suggests that at least some aspects of the disorder–including how touch is perceived, anxiety, and social abnormalities–are linked to defects in another area of the nervous system, the peripheral nerves found throughout the limbs, digits, and other parts of the body that communicate sensory information to the brain.

In the new study, the researchers examined the effects of gene mutations known to be associated with ASD in humans. In particular, they focused on Mecp2, which causes Rett syndrome, a disorder that is often associated with ASD, and Gabrb3, which also is implicated in ASD. They looked at two other genes connected to ASD-like behaviors as well.

“We think it works the same way in humans with ASD,” Ginty adds.

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How Does Autism Affect The Brain

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Autism is a brain disorder that affects how people interact with others. It occupies a spectrum, with severe autism at one end and high-functioning autism at the other. People with severe autism usually have intellectual impairments and little spoken language. Those with high-functioning autism have average or above average IQ, but struggle with more subtle aspects of communication, such as body language. As well as social difficulties, many individuals with autism show repetitive behaviors and have narrow interests.

The brains of people with autism process information differently to those of people without autism. The brain as a whole shows less coordinated activity in autism, for example. But whether individual brain regions themselves also work differently in autism is unclear. Watanabe et al. set out to answer this question by using a brain scanner to compare the resting brain activity of high-functioning people with autism to that of people without autism.

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    Scientists Find Imperfections In ‘minibrains’ That Raise Questions For Research

    That’s a problem because myelin provides the “insulation” for brain circuits, allowing them to quickly and reliably carry electrical signals from one area to another. And having either too little or too much of this myelin coating can result in a wide range of neurological problems.

    For example, multiple sclerosis occurs when the myelin around nerve fibers is damaged. The results, which vary from person to person, can affect not only the signals that control muscles, but also the ones involved in learning and thinking.

    The finding could help explain why autism spectrum disorders include such a wide range of social and behavioral features, says Brady Maher, a lead investigator at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and an associate professor in the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

    “Myelination could be a problem that ties all of these autism spectrum disorders together,” Maher says. And if that’s true, he says, it might be possible to prevent or even reverse the symptoms using drugs that affect myelination.

    “If we get to these kids really early, we might be able to change their developmental trajectory and improve their outcomes,” Maher says.

    “It’s possible to make these cells healthier,” adds Dr. Daniel Weinberger, director of the Lieber Institute and a professor at Johns Hopkins. “And it’s never been a target of treatment in autism.”

    Diagnostic Models Based On Imaging Genetics

    Parts of the Brain Affected by Autism

    Imaging genetics in ASD has proven useful, and pathways that include common genetic variation in TD individuals at risk of developing ASD have been characterized. Prenatal transcription regulation and synapse formation in the developing brain is impacted by the genes associated with ASD . Alteration in frontal WM connectivity and structure and disturbance in the frontal, temporal, and occipital circuits involved in visual and language processing was found to be associated with NRXN superfamily genes. Neuropeptide signaling and emotional functioning was found to be influenced by the oxytocin and arginine vasopressin receptor genes via structural and functional modification in the amygdalahypothalamus circuitry. One study showed a relationship between frontal lobe connectivity and common genetic variants in CNTNAP2 using a functional neuroimaging study and the study found that ASD and TD individuals who were nonrisk allele carriers showed more reduction in the activation of mPFC during an fMRI task as compared to risk allele carriers. Another study showed decreased functional connectivity in the prefrontal cortex, cortical spinal tract, corpus callosum, and decreased integrity of WM in children and adolescents carrying MET rs1858830, C risk allele. Such studies suggest that the genes affect the brain regions that are involved in social and emotional processing.

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    Gender Differences In Males And Females With Asd

    The above information provides an overview of just some of the differences found in the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder when comparing males and females.

    In summary, males and females differ in the following ways when looking at the diagnosis of ASD:

    • males are diagnosed at a 4:1 ratio when compared to females
    • at a young age , females seem to have more motor deficits and lesson communication deficits when they are identified as meeting criteria for an ASD diagnosis at that time
    • as intelligence level increases, females are less likely to be diagnosed with ASD which may have to do with their ability to develop coping strategies to manage their life experiences despite having ASD
    • females may display different types of restrictive or repetitive behaviors as compared to males; sometimes these behaviors are less noticeable to outside observers


    Halladay, A.K., Bishop, S., Constantino, J.N. et al. Sex and gender differences in autism spectrum disorder: summarizing evidence gaps and identifying emerging areas of priority. Molecular Autism6, 36 doi:10.1186/s13229-015-0019-y

    Matheis, M., Matson, J.L., Hong, E. et al. J Autism Dev Disord 49: 1219.

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    Learning Social Issues May Reflect Neuronal Miscommunication

    Washington University School of Medicine
    Mutations in a gene linked to autism in people causes neurons to form too many connections in rodents, according to a new study. The findings suggest that malfunctions in communication between brain cells could be at the root of autism.

    A defective gene linked to autism influences how neurons connect and communicate with each other in the brain, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Rodents that lack the gene form too many connections between brain neurons and have difficulty learning.

    The findings, published Nov. 2 in Nature Communications, suggest that some of the diverse symptoms of autism may stem from a malfunction in communication among cells in the brain.

    “This study raises the possibility that there may be too many synapses in the brains of patients with autism,” said senior author Azad Bonni, MD, PhD, the Edison Professor of Neuroscience and head of the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “You might think that having more synapses would make the brain work better, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. An increased number of synapses creates miscommunication among neurons in the developing brain that correlates with impairments in learning, although we don’t know how.”

    Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting about one out of every 68 children. It is characterized by social and communication challenges.

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