New method devised to detect autism in children

Toronto, April 18 (IANS) Scientists have come up with a new technique to detect autism in children based on their brain activity, says a study.

Neuroscientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the University of Toronto have developed an efficient and reliable method of analysing brain activity to detect autism in children. Their findings have appeared Thursday in the online journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers recorded and analysed dynamic patterns of brain activity with magnetoencephalography (MEG) to determine the brain’s functional connectivity that is, its communication from one region to another.

The MEG measures magnetic fields generated by electrical currents in neurons of the brain, reports Science Daily.

Roberto Fernandez Galan, PhD, an assistant professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve and an electrophysiologist seasoned in theoretical physics, led the research team that detected autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with 94 percent accuracy.

The new analytic method offers an efficient, quantitative way of confirming a clinical diagnosis of autism.

“We asked the question, ‘Can you distinguish an autistic brain from a non-autistic brain simply by looking at the patterns of neural activity?’ and indeed, you can,” Galan said.

“This discovery opens the door to quantitative tools that complement the existing diagnostic tools for autism based on behavioural tests.”

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