Advances in neuroimaging provide insights into anotomical features of the brain in people with autism


This review of literature published in the last twelve months set out to chart progress made in understanding anatomical and functional features in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The authors searched databases for research findings in the neuroimaging of autism using a variety of Medline search terms

They found that techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce two- or three-dimensional images of brain structures DTI (Diffusion tensor imaging an MRI-based  neuroimaging technique that allows visualisation of the brain’s white matter tracts have continued to improve upon  early histological and structural imaging studies. Newer techniques, including computer-based learning methods have allowed the study of ASD as a disorder of connectivity, regional cerebral function and neural circuitry.

The findings of these studies have repeatedly shown brain regions and neural circuits implicated in symptoms of ASD to be abnormal in individuals with a diagnosis of ASD.

The authors conclude that these findings provide a clear background for clinicians in the field of neuroimaging of ASD which have generated insights into the neurobiology of ASD.

Update on neuroimaging findings in autism spectrum disorder , Jordan I & Murphy D, in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 5,6, 19-31

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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