Brain imaging technique identifies autism

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute professor P. Read Montague has developed a brain imaging technique that may be able to identify autism in children.  Current diagnosis is a long an unquantifiable process based on clinical judgment.

The study demonstrates that a perspective tracking response can be used to determine whether someone has autism spectrum disorder.  It investigates how the middle cingulate cortex response differs in individuals at different developmental levels.

Children were shown 15 images of themselves and 15 images of a child matched for age and gender for four seconds per image in a random order. The control children had a high response in the middle cingulate cortex when viewing their own pictures. Children with autism spectrum disorder had a significantly diminished response.

According to Montague, “the single-stimulus functional MRI could also open the door to developing MRI-based applications for screening of other cognitive disorders.”  Scientists can link the function of mental disorders to the disrupted mechanisms of neural tissue through mathematical approaches, such as brain scans.  Doctors then can use measurable data for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences