Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Brain Waves

Coordinated brain activity at rest is different in people with autism compared to those without

18 March 2019

Brain Waves

When you're staring into space, you may not think that there is much going on upstairs. In reality, functional MRI has shown us that brain areas are always communicating with each other, even at rest. These coordinated patterns of activity could also be hiding clues about how we function as individuals. For example, there's less coordinated brain activity at rest in people with autism (fewer red clusters in the bottom row) compared to individuals without autism (top). Neuroscientists have recently gone one step further to show that as symptoms of the disorder become more severe, including intellectual difficulties and repetitive behaviours, this activity in key brain areas is even less coordinated. If neural patterns are related to or even causing the complex behavioural symptoms we see in individuals with autism, in future we may be able to treat the disorder by looking at how to change such patterns.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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