Trait markers, state markers and compensatory activity in ASD

Autism is strongly genetic and highly prevalent.  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by “impaired social interaction and communication, and can disrupt the brain’s ability to interpret the movements of other people, known as ‘biological motion'” (Science Daily).  Interpreting others’ motions feeds into the social impairment associated with ASD; if individuals cannot interpret motion or read into the significance of those motions, they cannot understand these motions’ implications.Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify brain activity that “may characterize the genetic vulnerability to developing ASD.”  In order to identify this genetic vulnerability, and potential means of overcoming this vulnerability, researchers scanned the brains of children with autism and their unaffected siblings, in addition to typically developing children’s brains, as the groups “watched animations of biological movement.” The team identified three “‘neural signatures’: trait markers – brain regions with reduced activity in children with ASD and their unaffected siblings; state markers – brain areas with reduced activity found only in children with autism; and compensatory activity – enhanced activity seen only in unaffected siblings.” The enhanced activity exhibited by siblings of individuals with ASD may provide insight into the ways in which one sibling overcomes genetic vulnerability to the disorder.

Brainjogging increases brain activity by facilitating the growth of new neurons and more expedient communication between these neurons.  Individuals with ASD have atypical brain activity; Brainjogging increases these individuals’ brain activity, bringing it up to a more typical level.

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