A patchy, not entirely, disorganized autistic brain

Certain parts of the brain for individuals with autism are wired in a patchy way according to the study from researchers from the University of California and the Allen Institute for Brain Science published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 27, 2014.

Recently there have been studies suggesting that autism may have origins before birth, and these results add to those predictions.  The researchers found that in the cortex, or outer most part of the brain, that there is a disruption of the normal structure for autistic individuals.  The disruptions found are not over the entire cortex, but are only in spots, which give hope for the potential of regeneration. The patches contain abnormal organization of neurons, the main brain cell.

To examine the brain, post mortem tissues were obtained from 11 children with autism and 11 without.  Genetic markers were used to look at the make up and wiring of the cortex. In 10 out of the 11 autistic children, patchy disorganization was found while the same structure was found in only 1 out of 11 normal children.  The poor neuronal structuring may provide insight that autism spectrum disorders may have be in the developing brain long before birth.

It may be possible to rewire the brain and fix the structure of cortex. This may be possible due to the patchiness rather than the complete disorganization of this part of the brain.  The results also reinforce the idea that it is extremely important to have early detection and treatment of the spectrum disorder.

To read the article: http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1307491

Stoner, Rich, et al. “Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism.” N Engl J Med 370.13 (2014): 1209-19. Print.


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