Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Brain differences in autistic males with early language delay

To conduct their study, the research team studied 80 adult men with autism - 38 of whom had delayed language onset - who were part of the Medical Research Council Autism Imaging Multicentre Study (AIMS). Delayed language onset occurs when a child's first meaningful words come out after 24 months of age, or when their first phrase occurs after 33 months. In the men who had delayed language onset, the researchers found that certain key regions of the brain had smaller volumes, including the temporal lobe, insula and ventral basal ganglia. Additionally, these men also had larger brainstem structures, compared with those who did not have delayed language onset. The team also observed a link between current language function and a specific pattern of grey and white matter volume changes in key brain regions, including the temporal, frontal and cerebellar structures. Dr. Lai says their study shows how the brains of autistic men differs, based on early language development and current language function, adding that this "suggests there are potentially long-lasting effects of delayed language onset on the brain in autism." However, when asked about whether their observations could suggest cause or effect, Dr. Lai told Medical News Today: "This is a correlation study of childhood development history to current neuroanatomy in adulthood so cannot directly test for causal relationship, which requires longitudinal dataset followed up from early childhood. We have not conducted studies in relation to this aspect now but are aware of longitudinal projects that may be potentially able to address this and related questions."

 Read more here.