One of the disorders that some children at a young age can develop is autism. But first

broadbeansromanceAI and Robotics

Nov 18, 2013 (2 years and 11 months ago)


Melissa Quintanar

Biology 1615

10 am


One of the disorders that
children at a young age
develop is autism. But first
of all what is autism? Autism is physical condition to abnormal biology and chemistry in
the brain. The exact
causes of these abnormalities remain

unknown, but this is a very
active area for research. There are probably

of factors that lead to autism.

There are little agreements among researchers on how this disorder develops in
children and how it causes a broad spectrum of social, lan
guage and behavioral deficits.
But Autism

Spectrum can be broken up to other categories such as Asperger
Syndrome (
autism, but with normal language development) and Persuasive
Development disorder.
Also it is 4 times more prevalent in boys than girls
, but makes no
racial, ethnic or socioeconomic distinctions.

A therapist instructs a little boy on his color in a rapid sequence of blocks to him. But the

starts to rock his chair and keeps touching his head so the therapist grabs his
hands and pla
ce them on top of the table to stop the repetitive behavior and focus again
to the sequence of blocks. Also the therapist notices a little two year old girl sitting alone
in the corner focused on some pictures card, and was unaware of a group of other
dren playing with a race track. These are some of the signs that children may have
autism. Scientist have made many studies to figure out if children have autism. One of
the researchers name David Amaral

a researcher from the institute at the University of

California at Davis Medical Center in Sacramento

has recorded in autistic brains, a
brain volume increase in specific structure, the amygdala
, which is thought to be
important for social behavior.

Several studies have

been made and the these are the
ts in increase volume. It is

shown that from ages two to four, autistic children have

Melissa Quintanar

Biology 1615

10 am

larger overall brain volumes than normal children but that
the difference had
disappeared by the age of six to seven. Also the team has analyzed that the brain
volume me
asurements of autistic children that started at birth and continued until 14
months of age. They study revealed that at birth, autist
ic children head size is much
smaller than healthy children, in the 25 percentile, but by 6
14 months, their head size
increased by 84 percentile , and excessive growth rate. So what this study mean is
that with autism significant unregulated brain growth occurs in the first year of life.
Amaral’s team also found that greater increa
se in brain size infancy and at l
ater age

first word, worse repetitive behavior, and a trend toward more severe autistic symptoms
later, at diagnosis.

Since autism is usually diagnosed around age two or three, when the brain is already
abnormally large.
Also a similar study was made at the
university of Washington in
Seattle, that has reached the same conclusion. Amaral says “ there are so few facts
about autism, to have tow labs come up with same data is phenomenal”.Another
research is on track too, using functional imaging, Ralph
Axel Mul
ler is a neuroscientist
at San Diego State University sees a scattering of the brain activation in autistic brains
that he views as an indication of a more general brain development problem underlying
disorder. One of his hypothesis that he has made was
the early developing basic
functions may need more brain area in autism, pushing out and disturbing the later
specialization for more complex functions. He believes that it might be wrong but he
says that it will allow them to look in a more hypothesi
s driven way in animal studies of

Melissa Quintanar

Biology 1615

10 am

how the cerebral cortex develops. Because animals models may help in clues about
normal and abnormal brain development in humans.

Although scientists have still debated in how autism evolves in patients

have shifted from “curing” autism to finding a better diagnostics for early
intervention, by improving behavioral therapies, and gaining insight into the
development and function of the autistic brain. Advocacy groups and government
programs have starte
d to bring together neuroscience and genetics experts, clinicians,
and families to sharpen the focus of studies and ensure progress in what has often a
messy field.

A key area of research explores the brain’s response to human faces at a young age.

at UW Autism Center has shown that unlike typically developing three year old ,
children with autism do not show a differential brain response to their mother’s face
compared to that of a stranger. Sara Webb, a child psychologist at UW, has followed

70 Autistic children since the age of three for a very long study that will test many
parameters until the age of nine.

One of the test that Sara made was to train half of the
autistic patients in face recognition which something most children would pick

up on
their own by having them study, manipulate, and faces using computer games. After
when the kids have been trained fMRI ( functional magnetic resonance imaging) will be
done again to see if the clefts on the cerebral surface in the brain might now be

activated when activa
ted when viewing strange faces.

That’s why toddlers at UCLA get one

one training by therapists, who fire rapid
questions and physically repeat tasks until they sink in. Stephanny Freeman, co director

Melissa Quintanar

Biology 1615

10 am

of the Early Childhood Partia
l Hospitalization program at UCLA says that these types of
methods will help develop two year old with autism. Other researchers have groups test
in two skills in particular sharing attention with others and pretend playing. They
hypothesize that these typ
es of skills, which normal children pick up easily and early, lay
important grou
ndwork for language development and it has shown that autistic children
can learn these skills with intense training.

In funding the search, the last decade, National Institute
s of Health funding for autism
research has increased from $10 million to $80 million, and much of that has been
funneled into large, multidisciplinary research projects.
Advocacy groups such as Cure
Autism research greatly influence which autism research

projects get funded, both
through their own grant programs and also by lobbying congress for increased federal

As more researchers in neuroscience and in genetics have become more involved ,
Amaral says, the tensions between parent groups and t
he nation institutes of health
have eased. “The parents have communicated more with the scientists the tremendous
need for research and the scientist convey back to them which make sense to fund”
hey says. So research is still in process to see what sci
entist can do about autism. For
most have the part there has been some questions answered and there still more to

Melissa Quintanar

Biology 1615

10 am