A study on autism, carried out by scientists at the Yale School of Medicine (United States), has found a pattern of brain activity that could be related to the genetic susceptibility to develop disorders of the autistic spectrum (ASD).
To carry out the research, whose results have published 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences', the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brain of children affected by autism, siblings of autistic children not affected by the disease, and a control group, while the three groups observed images of biological movements.
The team of researchers, led by Kevin A. Pelphrey, identified three "neural signatures" that distinguished the first two groups of children from the control group: children with ASD and healthy siblings shared reduced brain activity in certain brain areas ; autistic children had reduced brain activity in other areas and, finally, healthy siblings had increased brain activity in other areas of the brain.
According to the authors of the study, the first signature, shared by children with ASD and their unaffected siblings, could be the characteristic that indicates the genetic predisposition to develop autism, the second signature identifies the active autistic disorder, and the third would be aimed at compensate the genetic predisposition and the lower brain activity registered in some brain regions in the case of healthy siblings.
The researchers believe that these data could help better understand the causes of autism, and the genetic and molecular origin of this disorder.