Neurobiological changes in autism spectrum disorders

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Publish on 13 November 2014

Presentation from the 7th annual BRI Symposium at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Latest research in autism: Study of brain development may lead to personalized behaviour treatment for kids with ASD

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex condition that impacts normal brain development and affects a person's social relationships, communication, interests and behaviour. Because ASD is a spectrum disorder, there is wide variation in how it affects each person.

Dr. Krissy Doyle-Thomas, a post doctoral fellow in the Autism Research Centre at Holland Bloorview, examined how three areas of the brain change with age to better target behaviour treatment and drug therapy for children with ASD.

In the first study that spans childhood to adulthood, Dr. Doyle-Thomas scanned the brains of individuals with ASD between the ages of seven and 39 and compared changes with typically developing individuals of the same age to understand how autism affects the brain differently.

The study found clear differences in the surface area, thickness in the outer layer of the brain (cortex) and differences in the chemistry of the brain between people with ASD and those without. Future studies will examine a wider spectrum of autism and use targeted drug therapy to help balance behaviours.
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