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Brain test to detect autism in toddlers

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Autism in toddlers could be detected from early signs of the brain’s right and left sides not working “in sync”, research has suggested.

A new study indicates that autistic children show weaker synchronisation between the language areas on both sides of the brain.

Scientists measured the neural activity of sleeping toddlers, and found that children with the weakest synchronisation exhibited the most severe communication difficulties.

Researchers said the findings could lead to a method of diagnosing autism in one-year-olds.

Lead scientist Dr Ilan Dinstein, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, said: “In a normal brain, neurons in separate areas belonging to a system with a particular function, such as vision or language, always stay in sync, even during sleep.

“Our study shows that in most brains of toddlers with autism this ‘sync’ is significantly weaker in brain areas that are responsible for language and communication abilities.

“Many things need to be set up right during brain development to enable normal sync between different brain areas. The wiring between the brain areas needs to be right and the neurons within each brain area need to send and receive their messages properly.”

 

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