New criteria have been developed by researchers to define and classify the various forms of autism. According to a study published just this week, people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have trouble with social interaction and communication and may also engage in restrictive or repetitive behaviors or interests as well as suffer from sensory hypo/hypersensitivity.
The scientific method used to determine the brain’s reaction to a series of faces was detailed in a study published in Science Translational Medicine after it had been reviewed by experts in the field. The study included 436 participants, including children and adults. They reasoned that identifying distinct forms of autism by analyzing neural responses to facial features would be a useful step toward developing a more accurate diagnostic system.
Our findings “may serve as a blueprint for the next generation of research studies to progress from biomarker discovery to validation in order to provide optimal outcomes for people with autism.” Affiliated Researchers
Scientists have identified a number of genetic risk factors for ASD, as well as a number of environmental factors that may interact with genetic background. Diagnosing ASD can be further complicated by the fact that symptoms manifest differently in different people. The authors of this study argued that separating people with ASD into their unique subgroups would allow for more targeted medical care.
Methodologies for Research
The speed with which the brain can identify a face was quantified by comparing participants’ N170 latencies. They took notes on the reactions of 246 people with autism and 190 people without autism. They found that changes in N170 latency could predict socialization outcomes over the next 18 months.
Patients with a diminished ability to recognize faces were more likely to experience social anxiety.
Researchers concluded that their work “may provide a blueprint for the next generation of research studies to move from biomarker discovery to validation” to improve the lives of those with autism.
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