One in 68 children in the United States is said to be diagnosed with autism condition as per the data available with Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism signs are seen to be triggered during the early childhood phase of an individual and the symptoms vary from person to person.
Although it is a common perception that no two individuals on the condition have similar symptoms, there is a ground for similarity with the majority of symptoms revolving around the difficulties in social communication.
Researchers based out of MU Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders and University of Missouri School of Medicine have been able to successfully identify underlying links between neurotransmitter imbalances and brain connectivities that wire the different regions of the brain. These regions of the brain are known to play an important role in honing the language skills and defining the social communication skills of human beings. Further, the study attributed two other tests uncovered during the course of study that could help in having a more accurate medical diagnosis and treatment.
David Beversdorf, MD, professor of neurology, psychology and radiology at the MU School of Medicine and Thompson Center explains, “One of the major issues that surround autism treatments is there are too many subtypes and unique and varied genes that are different from other factors that are known to contribute to the disorder.”
The professor further continues, “If one sees a treatment that works well in a certain sub-population, chances are there it might or might not work in a similar manger in the other sub-population.”
However, the team believes once they understand the specific reason behind why a treatment might work in some condition and does not in another, they can pursue a higher level of individualized approach that could lead to better progress in designing alternative forms of newer treatments.
The team led by John Hegarty, PHD along with graduate students in the interdisciplinary neuroscience program at the MU University used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H-MRS) functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to assist Beverdorf’s team. The team further investigated the existing relationship between connectivity of different areas of the brain that are also known as posterolateral cerebral hemispehere and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in medical terms and the pre-existing neurotransmitter levels.
A group of fourteen autistic individuals diagnosed with autism and 12 additional neuro-typical participants were made to undergo brain scans in a controlled environment. The scans revealed links between neurotransmitter imbalance, functional connectivity and listening comprehensive difficulties in individuals diagnosed with the condition.
Those with lower levels of functional connectivities were seen to have a lesser/reduced balance of excitatory neurotransmitter levels in the cerebral cortex and were seen to have impaired listening comprehensiveness. To further understand the underlying condition, the participants were administered two sets of additional questionnaires in an attempt to determine the severity of autism symptoms. Further, the group completed additional two assessments that were designed to rate their social competence and other aspects of language skills.
Beversdorf says, “These findings suggest the intricate nature with which biomarkers related to one another in individuals diagnosed with autism condition.”
“There could also be newer sets of biomarkers that might be related which could show theories in a different light,” explains Beversdorf.
The team concludes, “The course of studies is bound to serve which biomarkers are accurate to understand who will respond to what drug.”