Breakthrough! Biological Basis for Autism discovered

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Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

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27 Jul 2004, 8:59 am


'Mind as a dynamical system: Implications for Autism' provides a
conceptual model of Autism that really makes sense.

The authors will publish an article in the september/oktober edition of
'Autism' (SAGE with the NAS, London) discussing an interest model of
mind and the present diagnostic criteria in use.

But today, there is also biological proof of that aspects of that
theory! it's exciting :-)

Here are the news: ... wsid=11412

30 July 2004

Scientists Discover Biological Basis for Autism

A team of brain scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the
University of Pittsburgh have made a groundbreaking discovery into the biological basis for autism, a mysterious brain disorder that impairs verbal and non-verbal communications and social interactions.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, the
researchers have found numerous abnormalities in the activity of brains of people with normal IQs who have autism. The new findings indicate a deficiency in the coordination among brain areas. The results converge with previous findings of white matter abnormalities in autism. (White matter consists of the "cables" that connect the various parts of the brain to each other).

The new findings led the researchers to propose a new theory of the
basis of autism, called underconnectivity theory, which holds that autism is a system-wide brain disorder that limits the coordination and integration
among brain areas. This theory helps explain a paradox of autism: Some
people with autism have normal or even superior skills in some areas,
while many other types of thinking are disordered. The team's study will be published in the August edition of the British journal Brain and is
available online at

In explaining the theory, Marcel Just, one of the study's lead authors
and director of Carnegie Mellon's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging,
compared the brain of a normal person to a sports team in which the members cooperate and coordinate their efforts. In an autistic person, though some "players" may be highly skilled, they do not work effectively as a team, thus impairing an autistic's ability to complete broad intellectual tasks. Because this type of coordination is critical to complex thinking and social interaction, a wide range of behaviors are affected in autism.

The research team believes these are the first findings in autism of
differences in the brain activation patterns in a cognitive (non-social)
task. The study produced two important new findings that help make
sense of previous mysteries: The autistic participants had an opposite
distribution of activation (compared to the control group) in the brain's two main language areas, known as Broca's and Wernicke's areas. There was also less synchronization of activation among key brain areas in the autistic participants compared to the control group.

To obtain technically acceptable fMRI data from high-functioning
autistic participants, the researchers flew in people with autism from all over the eastern United States. High-functioning participants with autism (with IQ scores in the normal range) are rare, accounting for about 10 percent of all people with autism. Using non-invasive fMRIs, the team looked at the brains of 17 people with autism and 17 control subjects as they read and indicated their comprehension of English sentences. In both the healthy brains and in the brains with autism, language functions were carried out by a similar network of brain areas, but in the autism brains the network was less synchronized, and an integrating center in the network, Broca's area, was much less active. However, another center, Wernicke's area, which does the processing of individual words, was more active in the autism brains.

The brain likely adapts to the diminished inter-area communication in
autism by developing more independent, free-standing abilities in each brain center. That is, abnormalities in the brain's white matter
communication cables could lead to adaptations in the gray matter computing centers. This sometimes translates into enhanced free-standing abilities or superior ability in a localized skill.

These findings provide a new way for scientists and medical researchers
to think about the neurological basis of autism, treating it as a
distributed system-wide disorder rather than trying to find a localized region or particular place in the brain where autism lives. The theory suggests new research to determine the causes of the underconnectivity and ways to treat it.

If underconnectivity is the problem, then a cognitive behavioral therapy
might be developed to stimulate the development of connections in these
higher order systems, focusing on the emergence of conceptual connections, interpretive language and so on. Eventually, pharmacological or genetic interventions will be developed to stimulate the growth of this
circuitry once the developmental neurobiology and genetics of these brain
connections are clearly defined by research studies such as these.

The research team is jointly headed by Just, the D.O. Hebb Professor of
Psychology at Carnegie Mellon, and Dr. Nancy Minshew, professor of
psychiatry and neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of
Medicine and director of its Center for Autism Research. Individuals with High Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome between 10 and 55 years of age who are interested in participating in similar studies can send email to [email protected] or call Nikole Jones at 412-246-5481.

Note how it makes sense in context with 'Mind as a dynamical system: Implications for Autism' online here ! !!

Last edited by attention-tunnel on 03 Aug 2004, 6:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

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31 Jul 2004, 7:34 pm

I found that article very interesting. I can definitely relate to the concept of monotropism. Tunnel-vision has been a bigger problem for me now than it is, usually. The links at the bottom of the article were fun to read, too, including the abstract you linked. I'm not an expert on the subject, but it made good sense to me :lol: Although, the formal academic language of the article might be confusing for some. The information on the other links is a bit easier to read through, but I do like the information that's in the article.


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21 Oct 2006, 8:50 pm

there is an easy way to take care of this and its 100 percent safe and costs about $10. its called acetl-l-carnitine. it was orignialy used to treat alzheimers and parksisons patients. its a psuedo-vitamin wich will rev up the brains latent stem cells and cause a cross-linking across the brain.


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22 Oct 2006, 12:55 am

hyperion wrote:
there is an easy way to take care of this and its 100 percent safe and costs about $10. its called acetl-l-carnitine. it was orignialy used to treat alzheimers and parksisons patients. its a psuedo-vitamin wich will rev up the brains latent stem cells and cause a cross-linking across the brain.

tell me more!

is it legal?

secondary effects?


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26 Oct 2006, 8:34 pm

Interesting! The article really says NOTHING new! Everyone knew that.


It IS legal, at least in the US, but the US has stricter laws here than most countries, so it is likely it is legal everywhere.

Possible, but UNLIKELY side effects from OVERDOSE are:

higher blood pressure
faster heart beats
possible diarrhea


better energy(by burning fat)
better brain performance
less depression
prevents cataracts

Although I am not a good test case, as I am trying a number of things concurrently, I have been using it for almost a week and DO feel better. I THINK my short term memory improved. I will know better this time next week. If nothing else, I am excited at the prospect.



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26 Oct 2006, 9:34 pm

As I read the article, I was going to post that this wasn't news and that this study was a sham. But then I read the date of the article and realized that it's 2 years old! :lol:

So, yeah, this isn't groundbreaking news.


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26 Oct 2006, 10:35 pm

Dr. Manuel Casanova's work in minicolumnar abnormalities in Autism suggests the underconnectivity theory is fairly accurate as the underlying framework to most autistic brains. However, Dr. Casanova has cautioned the findings of greater white matter content in that, what with the denser packing of minicolumnar gray matter, the white matter is inevitable (i.e., with more cell bodies, more connecting fibers are a given). Therefore, "white matter abnormalities" do not sum it up appropriately. "Denser packing of cortical minicolumns" seems more accurate.

I suggest reading Dr. Casanova's paper on AWARES for more detailed information.

However, even though they know more about the anatomical cause of ASDs, they still don't know what causes that. Although they're beginning to start hypothesizing.

My Science blog, Science Over a Cuppa -

My partner's autism science blog, Cortical Chauvinism -