Brain waves show sound processing abnormalities in autistic children
Abnormalities in auditory and language processing may be evaluated in children with autism spectrum disorder by using magnetoencephalography (MEG), according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). "Using MEG, we can record the tiny magnetic fields associated with electrical brain activity," said Timothy Roberts, Ph.D., vice chair of research in the Department of Radiology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Recorded brain waves change with every sensation, thought and activity. It's like watching a movie of the brain in real time."
Typically used for epilepsy evaluation, MEG can also be used to identify timing abnormalities in the brains of patients with autism.
"We found that signatures of autism are revealed in the timing of brain activity," Dr. Roberts said. "We see a fraction of a second delay in autistic patients."
Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects approximately one in every 150 American children, mostly boys, according to the Autism Society of America. Autism inhibits the brain functions that govern the development of social and communication skills.
For a MEG exam, a helmet that houses magnetic detectors and looks similar to an old-fashioned hair dryer is lowered over the patient's head while the patient remains in a seated position. The helmet analyzes electrical currents from the brain.
For the study, 64 patients, age six to 15, with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder were evaluated with MEG. Audio stimulation was introduced to the children in the form of beeps, tones in pairs, vowels or sentences. Sounds were presented at different frequencies and tone pairs in rapid succession, including unusual streams of incongruous tones and vowels. The results were analyzed and compared with the results from a control group of age-matched non-autistic children.
The findings showed that in the children with autism there was a fraction of a second delay in the brain's response while processing the rapid succession sounds and the unusual streams, giving researchers an insight into the dysfunction of the auditory processing system in autistic children.
"This delay in processing certain types and streams of sound may underpin the subsequent language processing and communication impairment seen in autistic children," Dr. Roberts said.
Dr. Roberts predicts that the signatures of autism found in brain activity will become biomarkers to improve classification of the disorder and aid in treatment and therapy planning.
"We hope that in the future these signatures will also be revealed in the infant brain to help diagnose autism and allow earlier intervention," he said.
- Brain imaging may help diagnose autismFri, 8 Jan 2010, 11:42:43 EST
- Why does brain development diverge from normal in autism spectrum disorders?Wed, 13 Apr 2011, 13:39:55 EDT
- Imaging study finds evidence of brain abnormalities in toddlers with autismMon, 4 May 2009, 17:15:56 EDT
- Autism research finds empirical link between multisensory integration and autismThu, 19 Aug 2010, 17:24:31 EDT
- Autism may involve disordered white matter in the brainMon, 5 Dec 2011, 17:27:20 EST
Articles on the same topic
- Brain's magnetic fields reveal language delays in autismMon, 1 Dec 2008, 10:01:50 EST
- Brain's magnetic fields reveal language delays in autismfrom Biology News NetTue, 2 Dec 2008, 20:56:22 EST
- Brain's Magnetic Fields Reveal Language Delays in Autismfrom Science BlogMon, 1 Dec 2008, 17:56:34 EST
- Brain's magnetic fields reveal language delays in autismfrom PhysorgMon, 1 Dec 2008, 12:56:56 EST
- Brain's magnetic fields reveal language delays in autismfrom Science CentricMon, 1 Dec 2008, 11:49:53 EST
- Brains of autistic slower to react to sounds: studyfrom Reuters:ScienceMon, 1 Dec 2008, 11:14:06 EST
- Brain's Magnetic Fields Reveal Language Delays in Autismfrom Science BlogMon, 1 Dec 2008, 10:57:18 EST
- Brain waves show sound processing abnormalities in autistic childrenfrom Science CentricMon, 1 Dec 2008, 10:42:12 EST
- Brain's Magnetic Fields Reveal Language Delays In Autismfrom Science DailyMon, 1 Dec 2008, 10:30:46 EST
- Autistic brains slower to react to sounds: studyfrom CBC: HealthMon, 1 Dec 2008, 10:01:22 EST
- Autistic brains slower to react to sounds: studyfrom CBC: Technology & ScienceMon, 1 Dec 2008, 10:00:32 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Seismic gap outside of Istanbul
- Personality test finds some mouse lemurs shy, others bold
- The contribution of particulate matter to forest decline
- Voices may not trigger brain's reward centers in children with autism, Stanford/Packard study shows
- An article in 'Cell' reveals a new resistance mechanism to chemotherapy in breast and ovarian cancer
- Even with defects, graphene is strongest material in the world
- Detection of the cosmic gamma ray horizon: Measures all the light in the universe since the Big Bang
- Genetic engineering alters mosquitoes' sense of smell
- Allosaurus fed more like a falcon than a crocodile, new study finds
- 'Popcorn' particle pathways promise better lithium-ion batteries