Scientists discovered that parts of the brain linked to social behavior in children with autism are not as fully developed and networked as in normal brains. According to a study published in Brain and Behavior, children affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have their brains structured differently from other children, which influences their behavior and how they interact with others. To determine if patients with high-functioning ASD might have a physiologic anomaly in the "social" part of their brains, the team conducted a study on 17 children and young adults with ASD. They then compared the participants' data against 22 youths without ASD. They used magnetic resonance imaging scans to track cerebral blood flow that indicates the measure of energy use in the brain and examined neural networks to test their functional connectivity. The researchers found that there was a widespread increase of blood flow in the frontal areas of the brain of children and youths with ASD, compared to biologically normal brains that have a generally reduced blood flow to the area. The frontal areas of the brain are responsible for understanding social cues and interacting with others. An anomaly in the blood flow to this area implied that socio-emotional cognition development in children with ASD is stunted.
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