NEURODEVELOPMENT

Catching it early

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 409
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6233.409-f

Differences in language maps of young autistic brains predict future abilities

CREDIT: M. V. LOMBARDO ET AL. NEURON (9 APRIL 2015) © 2015 ELSEVIER INC.

Communication difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) vary, making treatment more difficult. To anticipate language capability among those with ASD, Lombardo et al. used functional magnetic resonance imaging to analyze responses of toddlers to language during sleep. In individuals who later displayed poor language development, the superior temporal cortex responded differently than in individuals with better language development. Linkages between large-scale brain systems, such as those driving emotion, reward, and motor function, were atypical in toddlers with poor language outcomes. For those with better language outcomes, brain systems were at first abnormal but later normalized. Given the variation in severity of ASD, this early identification could inform ongoing treatments.

Neuron 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.023 (2015).

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