Press Release – Virginia Tech scientists developing two-minute test for autism spectrum disorder

Read Montague

Read Montague

ROANOKE, Va., Jan. 15, 2015 – Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have developed a brain-imaging technique that may be able to identify children with autism spectrum disorder in just two minutes.

This test, while far from being used as the clinical standard of care, offers promising diagnostic potential once it undergoes more research and evaluation.

“Our brains have a perspective-tracking response that monitors, for example, whether it’s your turn or my turn,” said Read Montague, the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute professor who led the study.

“This response is removed from our emotional input, so it makes a great quantitative marker.” he said. “We can use it to measure differences between people with and without autism spectrum disorder.”

The finding, slated for online publication this week in Clinical Psychological Science (http://cpx.sagepub.com/content/early/recent), demonstrates that the perspective-tracking response can be used to determine whether someone has autism spectrum disorder.

Usually, diagnosis – an unquantifiable process based on clinical judgment – is time consuming and trying on children and their families. That may change with this new diagnostic test.