Connections Between Visual and Neural Networks Are Weaker Among Autistic Children

One of the most apparent and researched symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder is the aversion towards interaction with other people. In most cases, children diagnosed with a form of autism will ignore stimuli that pick the interest of other children. One of them is watching other children as they dance, play, or sing.

A team of researchers employed a new visual tracking method and brain imaging to learn more about ASD toddlers. The results were quite impressive as ASD toddlers who ignore social stimuli and prefer to look at moving images feature symptoms that are more severe. Their brains also show a lower level of activity related to the connection between social and visual attention networks.

The study mentions that a subtype of ASD toddles who prefer colorful geometric images instead of pictures of children features a disconnection between the visual and social brain networks. It is estimated that the phenomenon is encountered among 20% of toddlers affected by autism.

Autistic Children Have Weaker Connections Between Visual And Neural Networks

The attention and learning tendencies of the toddler will focus on experiences that visually intense. It is thought that this may play an essential factor in the appearance of social impairments among some ASD toddlers.

At this point, a child diagnosed with autism will receive a somewhat generic treatment that follows the rules of the Applied Behavior Analysis. In the future, children could receive personalized treatment based on in-depth evaluations that can target specific brain networks.

The researchers have investigated the potential of using vision tracking as a tool for diagnostic and treatment over several years. During the current study, they combined eye tracking with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data that offers more information about select brain circuits. Data was collected from both ASD and non-ASD toddler groups, and several aspects were taken into account. The study was published in a scientific journal.

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