Overactive brain keeps autistic teens from adjusting to social situations
(Medical Xpress)—A new University of Michigan study finds that an overactive part of the brain hinders autistic teens from coping in unfamiliar social settings, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Seeing the same faces repeatedly can negatively affect autistic children, especially in social situations. If a teen looks away or does not pay attention, this is often interpreted as someone who isn't interested in other people, says U-M researcher Christopher Monk.
"The present findings along with other work suggest that for many kids with ASD, it may not be just a lack of interest," said Monk, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and a research associate professor at the Center for Human Growth and Development.
"They may find it distressing to look at and interact with other people. If kids find it distressing to watch and engage in social situations from an early age, they will disengage from them and miss many opportunities to learn about the social world."
Data were analyzed from 32 children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and 56 typically developing youth. They underwent functional MRI scanning while performing a gender identification task for faces that were fearful, happy, sad or neutral.
The researchers were particularly interested in a structure called the amygdala, which indexes anxiety. Whereas youth without autism rapidly habituated or showed decreased activation over time to the faces, those with ASD showed sustained amygdale activity over time when they saw sad and neutral faces.
Habituation was tested by examining if amygdala activation to faces decreased by the end of the session. In healthy people, the amygdala responds to faces at the beginning of the scanning session but lessens to repeated presentation of faces. If that doesn't happen, it could lead to overarousal, Monk said.
"This process is similar to becoming habituated to a ticking clock in a room so we don't notice it anymore," said U-M researcher Johnna Swartz and the study's lead author. "We could imagine how distressing failure to habituate would be in that case. Amygdala habituation helps us become accustomed to familiar social situations so we're not always on alert. This study is one of the first to show that this process is altered in teens with autism spectrum disorders."
Researchers also discovered that reduced habituation to neutral faces may be related to more severe ASD symptoms. Monk said early intervention could include increasing emotion recognition or reducing overarousal to faces through training and exposure.
The findings appear in the current Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: www.sciencedirect.… nal/08908567
Journal reference: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Provided by University of Michigan
- Heightened level of amygdala activity may cause social deficits in autism Mar 19, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Eye-tracking reveals variability in successful social strategies for children with autism Feb 27, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Study: Common gene mutation affects kids with autism spectrum disorders Sep 14, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Study uses brain scans to discover how children 'read' faces Nov 20, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Using music to explore the neural bases of emotional 'processing' in the autistic brain May 13, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Is this plasma (picture in thread)
31 minutes ago http://postimg.org/image/d530nwobf/
Basic physics understanding. Could someone explain?
2 hours ago I'm trying to get a grip on some classic physics by watching a Stanford lecture. I've made it through the first one, and now in the second one all...
Change in flux of a transformer
3 hours ago Hello, As I understand, a simple transformer works by using the Input AC in the primary coil to generate magnetic field in the iron core, which...
Electric field between parallel plate capacitor
3 hours ago If you have an infinite non-conducting plate, the electric field just outside is equal to sigma / 2*epsilon. The electric field just outside a...
Why angle of projectile has 2 solutions?
4 hours ago I have the final answer of: sin2(theta) = 0.871 why does (theta) = 30.3 deg OR (theta) = 59.7 deg I get why this could be physically, but...
How much negative charge do I accumulate by touching the earth?
5 hours ago The Earth carries a negative electric charge of roughly 500 thousand Coulombs (according to different sources I've seen). If I touch the Earth I...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
Children with autism showed significant improvement after six months of simple sensory exercises at home using everyday items such as scents, spoons and sponges, according to UC Irvine neurobiologists.
Autism spectrum disorders May 21, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Research by Victoria University PhD education graduand Larah van der Meer highlights the importance of understanding the communication preferences of children with developmental disabilities such as autism.
Autism spectrum disorders May 14, 2013 | 3.3 / 5 (3) | 1
At times, Andy Shih still finds himself overwhelmed by the groundswell of interest in autism applications he's seen in the three years since Apple Inc. released the first iPad.
Autism spectrum disorders May 09, 2013 | 2 / 5 (1) | 0
Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, and this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to a fundamental cause of the developmental disorder, according ...
Autism spectrum disorders May 08, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
(AP)—Autism scientists are seeking more brain samples for research.
Autism spectrum disorders May 02, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0