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Kathy Marshack News

New Research Shows How MRI Scan May Be Used to Diagnosis Autism

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Harvard University and the University of Utah have been working together to develop a new method for diagnosing autism. The results of their research is very noteworthy. A MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is used to test the regions in the brain that relate to emotions, social cognition, and language. When scanning the brain of someone with autism, researchers found that there was not as much information being passed between these areas of the brain.

Lead study author Nicholas Lange, ScD, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, told Medscape Medical News that, "The test was able to detect autism in this high-functioning population with 94% accuracy. This technique shows that someone with autism has less organized wiring."

What makes this method so much better than the previous? Dr. Lange said, "Autism is diagnosed now with a very subjective measure, a formal interview that takes 4 hours, and with observation of the child for another hour or so. But it’s the doctor’s call. This test is a more definitive way of determining autism early on, by pointing to something in the brain that is biologically based."

This test is not yet available, but as for the future of this type of testing, Dr. Lange states, "We are continuing to study and develop the test, and more findings are due out a year or 2 from now. We are also planning future studies to look at patients with high-severity autism and younger children less than 7 years of age and patients with brain disorders, such as developmental language disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, who do not have autism." For a more detailed description of this study, read MRI Test Shows Diagnostic Promise for Autism.


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