New brain scan technique for diagnosing autism revealed
28 June 2012 17:25 in Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs
Scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University have revealed a potential new means of assessing infant brain patterns in order to make early autism diagnoses.
The team has discovered significant differences in white matter tract development among high-risk infants who develop autism starting as early as six months in age.
By carrying out a special type of MRI scan called diffusion tensor imaging, followed by a subsequent behavioural assessment, researchers suggest that these abnormal developments can be detected during an infant's first year of life.
Typically, autism is not detected until a child is aged two or three years old, making this a potentially major advance.
Dr Alan Evans, from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University, said: "For the first time, we have an encouraging finding that enables the possibility of developing autism risk biomarkers prior to the appearance of symptoms and in advance of our current ability to diagnose autism."
Earlier this year, research from Carnegie Mellon University showed that autism can cause deficiencies in the speed and rate at which information can be transmitted through white matter tracts, impairing a person's ability to process social and language information.
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