Individuals with autism have slower pupil light responses

Autism is not well understood, despite the fact that its prevalence among children is more staggering than that of childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.  University of Missouri (MU) researchers recently “developed a pupil response test that is 92.5 percent accurate in separating children with autism from those with typical development” (Science Daily).  Children with autism, according to MU’s study, “have slower pupil response to light change” (Science Daily).

Prior to this study, conducted by Gang Yao, associate professor of biological engineering in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering, there had been no comprehensive evaluation of “pupils’ response to light in children with autism” (Science Daily).  Scientists used “a short light stimulus to induce pupil light reflexes in children under both dark and bright conditions” (Science Daily).  They used a computerized binocular infrared device,

which eye doctors normally use for vision tests, to measure how pupils react to a 100-millisecond flash light.  A pupil reaction tests reveals potential neurological disorders in areas of the brain that autism might affect.  The results showed pupils of children diagnosed with autism were significantly slower to respond than those of a control group.MU’s research illustrates the autism’s interaction with pupils’ light response.  Increasingly, the eye is becoming the focus of studies on various types of learning disabilities; it seems that the eye is a kind of key to neurological disorders.  Camp Academia, INC.’s Brainjogging program actually strengthens peripheral vision by forcing student to track their eyes across a computer screen.  By training the eyes, Brainjogging simultaneously trains the brain!

*This story was also published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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