Relationship between Coherence and Sensory Processing Deficits in Autism - a Whole Head MEG Study
Massachusetts General Hospital
One hypothesis for some of the core deficits in autism is the inability of the cortex to organize and process sensory information. Deficit in the cortex's ability to decode and interpret sensory signals could lead to symptoms such as hypersensitivity to visual and auditory stimuli, and in some instances, higher cognitive function in certain domains of functioning. As these are both characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, Dr. Kenet and her colleagues at MGH will examine electrical activity across brain regions to determine if different areas of the cortex communicate in an organized way, or synchoronize, to different stimuli. This information about brain activity will be superimposed on an anatomical brain image using MRI techniques. These results will allow these researchers to link these changes in brain activity to alterations in brain size, differences in brain activity between brain hemispheres, as well as neuroanatomical changes previously reported such as increases in white matter density. This study is important because it integrates deficits in sensory processing, abnormal connectivity of different brain regions, and neuroanatomical differences. Significance:This novel approach will examine the functional activity individual brain areas involved in autism spectrum disorders, then investigate how these different areas work together and send messages to each other. This study is expected to contribute to advances in the neurobiology of autism, and possibly identify markers in brainwave activity that will help in earlier identification of those affected with ASD.