Autism in children may be diagnosed earlier and more accurately through brain wave tests

CC BY-SA by jepoirrier

CC BY-SA by jepoirrier

New York City, NY – A study conducted by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Yeshiva University has shown that brain wave tests may be used to effectively diagnose autism in children a lot earlier.

Children and young adolescents aged 6-17 who were diagnosed with autism were tasked to take part in the study, where researchers used audio, visual, and audio-visual stimuli to determine how fast they react to sight and sound stimulants. The children and teens were asked to press a button each time they see an image, hear a sound, or both. The results were recorded using electro-encephalogram or EEG, where small metal discs connected to thin wires (called electrodes) placed on an electro-cap were attached to both the children and the teens’ scalps.

The results of the study was published Sept. 22 on the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

The outcome of the research suggests that the children with more severe autism have responded at a slower pace when they were prompted with an auditory stimulus– and an even slower pace when they were prompted with an audio-visual stimulus. The children’s reaction to visual stimuli, on the other hand, showed no significant difference in relation to their autism severity levels.

Sophie Molholm, co-author of the study and associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for pediatrics and neuroscience, said that the research hopes to help earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism in young children through the use of brain wave tests in conjunction with the clinical methods already used by doctors today to diagnose autism. According to Molholm,

“One of the things that one would hope is that you can take measures of brain activity that we find to be associated with these certain clinical symptom and apply them at very early developmental stages and determine if it is likely that this person will go on to develop autism, for example.”

Earlier diagnosis of autism in children will help significantly in giving the children the proper treatment in the earliest possible time, before both the cognitive and social symptoms are even displayed, according to the researchers.

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta