Autism predicted by MRI

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  • Published: Aug 14, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics
thumbnail image: Autism predicted by MRI

Structural magnetic resonance imaging of the brains of pre-school children with autism spectrum disorders exposes sufficient alterations to suggest that the technique can be used to predict the condition.

This is the conclusion of researchers in Italy who found that subtle changes in the grey matter were sufficient to provide an accurate classification, as they reported in Journal of Neuroimaging. The brain images were pre-processed using two commercial packages before being treated with support vector machines which were able to provide the discrimination between children with autism and those with aged-matched controls.

The results implicated a network of brain regions in autism spectrum disorders, the frontal and temporal areas being most significant, which is consistent with previous structural MRI studies. These regions are associated with theory of mind and empathy, two skills which are impaired in autistic children.

The research team say that the process should now be extended to a much larger number of subjects to confirm the data. This aim could be achieved using the open-access clinical data sets ABIDE and NDAR.

"Since ASD is a common and lifelong impairing condition, a better knowledge of distinctive neuroanatomical structures underlying symptoms and cognitive profile is likely to improve not only the diagnostic process, but also the current treatment options," they concluded.

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