Brain research sheds light on improved vision among autism patients

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Research into the human brain has provided Canadian researchers with new insights into how autism can affect the visual abilities of patients.

Scientists at the University of Montreal have published a study in the Human Brain Mapping journal which collates 15 years of data on how autistic brains react to interpreting visual data, such as faces, words and objects.

It was observed that patients affected by the mental condition exhibit more activity in their temporal and occipital regions - areas associated with visual detection and identification - than non-autistics, at the expense of activity in the frontal cortex, which controls higher cognitive functions such as decision-making.

According to researchers at the University of Montreal's Centre for Excellence in Pervasive Development Disorders, this could help to explain why autistics frequently demonstrate outstanding capabilities in visual tasks.

Study leader Dr Laurent Mottron, said: "We now have a very strong statement about autism functioning which may be ground for cognitive accounts of autistic perception, learning, memory and reasoning."

This research was published in the days following the fourth annual World Autism Awareness Day, which took place on April 2nd 2011.

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