An Unexpected Discovery in the Brains of Autistic Children

by Rachel Baker on March 27, 2014

With all the discussion in the scientific community about how scientists publish studies in journals for the sake of publishing, one would be hesitant to reference any study found in a journal without adequate individual research. That said, here’s an article about a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (the link is in the article below) about a new discovery in Autistic children’s brains.

If you have an autistic child in your family, its probably worth following to see if anything comes from this study.

Nobody knows what causes autism, a condition that varies so widely in severity that some people on the spectrum achieve enviable fame and success while others require lifelong assistance due to severe problems with communication, cognition, and behavior. Scientists have found countless clues, but so far they don’t quite add up. The genetics is complicated. The neuroscience is conflicted.

Now, a new study adds an intriguing, unexpected, and sure-to-be controversial finding to the mix: It suggests the brains of children with autism contain small patches where the normally ordered arrangement of neurons in the cerebral cortex is disrupted. “We’ve found locations where there appears to be a failure of normal development,” said Eric Courchesne, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego and an author of the study, which appears today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It’s been really difficult to identify a lesion or anything in the brain that’s specific and diagnostic of autism,” said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, one of several agencies that funded the project. The new study is notable because it applies sophisticated molecular labeling methods to postmortem tissue from people with autism who died as children, which is incredibly hard to come by, Insel says.

Read the whole article here:
Wired.com Article – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/03/disordered-cortex-autism/

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