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MRI Reveals Autism’s Mysteries

The latest issue of the science journal Brain and Behavior contained some most interesting, fascinating news: a new study on autism has been completed, one which provides new and helpful information to researchers working to study and overcome the disease.

According to the UCLA Health website, the human brain if efficient — it tries to get the maximum output for the minimum energy. In order to due this, as we grow, the brain prunes off its own cells, making itself smaller and requiring less energy. When a great deal of blood continues to flow to this area, however, it is called hyperfusion, and it can have side effects.

Researchers at the UCLA Department of Neurology conducted a study in which magnetized, labeled blood water was used to allow researchers to perform an MRI of several children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and of several children without.

This study showed that there was a definite case of hyperfusion in the children with ASD, indicating a reduction in connectivity between the nodes at the front and the back of the brain. This also supports previous findings by research in the default node network, and continues to grow the current body of research that is being amassed on autism.

Medical News Today spoke to Associate Professor of Neurology at UCLA, Daniel J.J. Wang, who said that the default node network regulates social and emotional processes, self-reflection, and the ability to attribute emotional states to others. Wang explained how the impacts to the brain can lead to behavioral changes and mental disorders.

The brain controls most of our behavior, and changes in how brain areas work and communicate with each other can alter this behavior and lead to impairments associated with mental disorders.

By studying how physiological changes impact behavior, Wang said the mechanisms that trigger mental disorders could be identified, leading to improved diagnosis and treatment methods.

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