Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brain waves shed light on autism


By Lindsay Tanner

Review/Reflection by Richard Burrows

Researchers have recently found unique brain waves that may assist in the explanation of communication issues with autistic children. These “signatures of autism” were found to show a delay in processing sounds. This delay can ‘snowball’ into a major speaking obstacle.
The results still need to be confirmed, but there is hope for advancement in autism detection. This allows for earlier detection, which in turn means earlier treatment. In the past, typically the diagnosis comes from observations of parents
Dr. Papanicolaou, director of the clinical neurosciences center at the University of Texas says, “It gives us a window through which we get a picture of some of the neurological conditions responsible for the peculiar behaviours in autism.”
The treatment involves a noninvasive procedure called MEG. The researchers had 64 autistic children ages 6 to 15 listen through headphones to a series of rapid beeps. The brain wave activity was compared with a control group of non-autistic children. Experts state that 1 in 150 US children have autism, and currently there is no cure. Behaviour treatment and medication can lessen the symptoms.
“Among those in the study was Parker Leiby, a nine-year-old Mount Laurel, N.J., boy with mild autism and sometimes hard-to-understand speech. He said he felt like an astronaut wearing that big helmet, and called the whole experience “cool.””
The author of the study, Dr. Roberts stated these findings substantiate the claim that autism is “a disorder of connectivity in the brain.”

The article is good overview of the basic concepts of autism and the research report. I think it targeted the right audience and presented just enough information to spark interest. I would be interested in reading a more detailed report on the findings.

This notion of advancement in autistic diagnosis is quite exciting. It is always great to hear that millions of research dollars are actually providing results in helping improve society as a whole. I realize this is only a small step for medicine, but this certainly lays a solid groundwork for further research.

No comments: