June 22, 2011

Autistic Brains Show Big Differences

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Genetic makeup of autistic brain drastically different from healthy brain

(dailyRx News) Autistic brains are dramatically different at the molecular level than healthy brains, a recent study has found. This finding might offer new insight into the causes of autism.

The researchers compared brain tissue samples obtained from 19 autism patients after death and 17 healthy volunteers. They found differences in the genetic “signature” of the brains with and without autism.

The genes and proteins in autistic brains interact in distinctive ways, said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Ask your pediatrician if your child is showing signs of autism."

In healthy brains, there are genetic differences between the frontal lobe, which manages judgment, speech and emotions, and the temporal lobe, which governs hearing, language and the processing of sounds.

Those differences virtually don’t exist in the autistic brain, researchers found. Instead, the two lobes resemble each other, they said.

These findings suggest that the molecular differences in the autistic brain are a cause and not an effect of the disease. Next, the scientists will expand their research to include other parts of the brain.

Autism is characterized by social impairment, communication problems and restricted and repetitive behavior. Experts have estimated that six out of every 1,000 children will have some form of autism.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
June 21, 2011

Last Updated:
June 22, 2011