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Article on autism and differences in brain vascularization


Tiramisu
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If you read Temple Grandin's book, The Autistic Brain, you will see that this study most likely does not say much at this point. Autistic brains are not all created equal. One can also question the fact that this research was conducted on postmortem brains just like questions have been raised when research has been conducted on sedated brains (as seen in TG's book) In any case, I just see it as a very minor step to more possible research. Also, just because this study focused on a vascular connection, it does not mean that there is no neurological connection. Yet, the way it is worded in the article it may lead someone to believe that this may be the case.

 

"Their research sheds new light on the causes of autism, which previously had pointed to neurological make-up rather than to the vascular system, and identifies a new target for potential therapeutic intervention."

 

Note, that this statement is not found in the abstract.

 

In any case, it is interesting to see the different directions research on autism takes.

 

Thanks for posting :)

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In the past, I used to read a lot of threads on a forum for connective tissue disorders, and I was intrigued at how often discussion of autism came up and the speculations of overlap. So when this article talked about "the composition and malfunction of the brain's blood vessels," calling them "unstable," it got my attention because this is the type of things people with connective tissue disorders can deal with. Not only that, they are prone to circulatory disorders like POTS and orthostatic hypotension, which affect blood flow to the brain.

 

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That's interesting Tiramisu! I know nothing about connective tissue disorder but keeping this in mind to look it up.

 

I'm trying to do some research on vascular changes postmortem. I tried to look up the study on Google Scholar but could not find it. I guess it's very recent.

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It seems that there is evidence of an association between connective tissue disorder and several other disorders, besides autism. I'll be keeping an eye out to see if the full study pops up on Google Scholar at some point. The brains used were in the 2-20 age range, some possibly not diagnosed with other disorders. There is no indication of how many samples were used either. Just saying... I would like to see more specifics.

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25459977

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...and another interesting article on autism and the brain, this time regarding insufficient GABA and something about oscillation of competing visual images.

 

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/12/a-brain-link-to-autism/

 

geodob if you see this, it would be interesting to hear what you think - is this oscillation of images a correct description?

 

To find that evidence, Robertson and colleagues went searching for an easily replicable test that produced consistently different results in people with and without autism, and found it in what visual neuroscientists call binocular rivalry.

 
Normally, she said, the brain is presented with two slightly different images — one from each eye — that it averages to create the single image we see. The binocular-rivalry test, however, forces each eye to take in very different images, with surprising results.
 
“The end result is that one image is just suppressed entirely from visual awareness for a short period,†Robertson said. “So if I show you a picture of a horse and an apple, the horse will entirely go away, and you will just see the apple. Eventually, though, the neurons that are forcing that inhibitory signal get tired, and it will switch until you only see the horse. As that process repeats, the two images will rock back and forth.â€
 
In earlier studies, Robertson and colleagues showed that while the same process does occur in the autistic brain, the oscillation between images can take significantly longer.
 
“Where the average person might rock back and forth between the two images every three seconds, an autistic person might take twice as long,†she said. “They spend the same amount of time in the steady state, where they see only one image, as the average person. It just takes them longer to switch between them, and the second image is not as deeply suppressed.â€

 

As far as GABA being low or something, that isn't surprising to me at all, though the chemical reactions are extremely complex (methylation, for starters).

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That's interesting wapiti! I would be curious to see if emotional state has any further influence. What I mean is, if there is a further effect (specifically with those on the spectrum) when the person is in a situation with a lot of sensory stimulation vs in a calm state.

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