Toward a Cure Based on a Better Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impairments in social cognition and communications. By applying multidimensional scaling to the analysis of temporo-spatial gaze behaviors, we quantitatively demonstrated that normal control participants shared highly stereotypical gaze patterns while viewing socially relevant video stimuli, whereas children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) were variable in their gaze patterns. Many distant cortical areas has been implicated for such deficits of social ability. From these, we hypothesized that ASD derives from anomalous neural connections in their brain with long-range underconnectivity. In support of the hypothesis, we found a weakness of individuals with ASD in naming familiar objects moved behind a narrow slit, which was worsened by the absence of local salient features. Temporal integration of successive visual information during slit viewing involves a distributed cortical network, including higher visual areas and parietal association areas. Thus, the long-range underconnectivity implicated in the autistic brain may result in a deficit in visual temporal integration across these areas. Understanding how the inter-connections are impaired in individuals with ASD is essential for improving present methods for treatment, such as early intensive intervention using applied behavior analysis.
KeywordsAutism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectral Disorder Asperger Syndrome Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Spectral Disorder Group
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