Researchers examine brain networks responsible for attention and rewards in children with ASD

brain cellsChicago — A team of researchers from Virginia has presented a study that focused on two brain networks that are responsible for attention and awards in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The research was done in an attempt to distinguish the differences of the developmental condition among children diagnosed with autism.

The researchers focused on the interactions among the brain networks in hopes of finding something that would reveal how these interactions lead to autism-related behavior.

The study involved 44 individuals with autism, and 44 without— all of whom underwent magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRI) while they were at rest.

The researchers observed the two brain networks through 28 brain regions that are believed to be involved in reward anticipation and attention. They created communication profiles for each of the participant by tracking the activities of the brain regions with each other, and results were fed into algorithms.

When the researchers looked at the results from the two brain networks separately, there was little difference between the results of the tests taken from the individuals with autism, and those without autism. When they looked at the profiles created from the both brain networks as a whole, however, the results were able to separate those with autism from those without.

The researchers, who are mostly from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, are hoping to further their study by doing more tests and further exploring how interaction of the brain networks affect attention and reward anticipation in individuals with autism.

Source: Rachel Zamzow in Spectrum Network analysis may help grapple with autism’s diversity