Researchers from the University Of North Carolina School of Chapel Hill, have recently found that infants who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at 24 months old already had differences in the visual processing areas of the brain that would have been apparent at 6 months old.
The study conducted by Jessica Girault, PhD and her colleagues affirms that disruption in visual processing could bring about some changes on how infants see the world and interact with people around them. These early changes could affect development and play a role in ASD symptoms, they maintained.
The research sponsored and overviewed by the National Institutes of Health was set up with enrolment of 384 pair of siblings with the eldest sibling who has been diagnosed with ADS and previous studies by the team found that younger siblings were more likely to develop ASD if their older siblings had higher levels of ASD traits.
To arrive at their conclusion, the scientists performed Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans on the brains of the younger siblings at 6, 12 and 24 months of age.
The findings from the National Institute of Health shows that It was theorized that amongst the 89 younger siblings who developed ASD, there were those whose older sibling had severe ASD traits such as surface area of the cerebrum, which controls speech, thought, emotions, reading, writing, and learning; larger surface area in the part of the visual cortex important for recognizing objects; and less mature connections in the splenium, which connects the brain’s left and right visual cortices that plays a vital role in visual attention.