Children with Autism have Abnormal Brain Structure – MRI Shows Autistic Kids have Enlarged Brain Size

Children with Autism have Abnormal Brain Structure – MRI Shows Autistic Kids have Enlarged Brain Size

Researchers say that children with autism have an “altered brain anatomy” thought to be due to an abnormal brain development. They used magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI) to measure the transverse relaxation (T2) of cortical gray and white matter in the children's brains. The 60 autistic children involved in the study were between the ages of two and four.

The scientists compared the scans with 16 children with a developmental delay, and 10 children with a typical brain development. The scientists say that the autistic children had differences in the gray matter of their brains compared to the children with typical development.

The T2 relaxation is a measure of how tightly bound, or mobile, water is in brain tissue and has been used to measure the temporal progression of brain maturation. According to the study author, Doctor Stephen Dager, “One of the more consistent brain findings associated with autism has been enlarged brain size. In contrast to current theories which suggest the enlarged brains are due to accelerated early growth tied to a more advanced stage of brain maturation, gray matter T2 relaxation findings were in the opposite direction. These results suggest that the mechanism or mechanisms responsible for larger brains in autism are different from more rapid growth." Doctor Dager is from the University Of Washington School Of Medicine in Seattle.

He went on to say "An important consideration is that our findings point toward a different research strategy to elucidate abnormal mechanisms underlying brain development in autism. These findings suggest altered gray matter cellular structure and/or pathologic brain processes such as inflammation early in the developmental course of autism."

Dager says this test can not be used as a diagnostic tool to determine if a child has autism. The study will be published in the August 22, 2006, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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