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Thursday, January 28, 2010
Recent research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that Autism Spectrum Disorders result from a mis-wiring of connections in the developing brain, leading to improper information flow. Specifically, the route between the eye's retina and the visual area of the brain might be deficient. Researchers at the Children's Hospital in Boston included patients in their study with a rare disorder known as Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). Autism Spectrum Disorders affect about 25 to 50 of TSC patients. The finding in this study might also explain why people with TSC have seizures and intellectual disabilities. TSC causes benign tumors throughout the body, including the brain. But patients with TSC may have autism, epilepsy or intellectual disabilities even in the absence of these growths. Now, researchers provide evidence that changes in one of the TSC's causative genes may prevent growing nerve fibers from finding their proper destinations in the developing brain. Researchers believe their findings may have general relevance for the organization of the developing brain. Scientists speculate that in autism, wiring may be abnormal in the areas of the brain involved in social cognition.