Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adolescents appears to be associated with atypical connectivity in the brain involving the systems that help people infer what others are thinking and understand the meaning of others’ actions and emotions.
Inna Fishman, Ph.D, of San Diego State University, California, and colleagues,
The ability to navigate and thrive in complex social systems is commonly impaired in ASD, a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting as many as 1 in 88 children.
How the Study Was Conducted:
The authors used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate connectivity in two brain networks involved in social processing: theory of mind (ToM, otherwise known as the mentalizing system, which allows an individual to infer what others are thinking, their beliefs, their intentions) and the mirror neuron system (MNS, which allows people to understand the meanings and actions of others by simulating and replicating them). The study included 25 adolescents with ASD (between the ages of 11 and 18) and 25 typically developing adolescents.
Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness
A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography (PET) is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research published in The Lancet.
It is the first time that researchers have tested the diagnostic accuracy of functional brain imaging techniques in clinical practice.
“Our findings suggest that PET imaging can reveal cognitive processes that aren’t visible through traditional bedside tests, and could substantially complement standardbehavioural assessments to identify unresponsive or “vegetative” patients who have the potential for long-term recovery”, says study leader Professor Steven Laureys from the University of Liége in Belgium.*
In severely brain-damaged individuals, judging the level of consciousness has proved challenging. Traditionally, bedside clinical examinations have been used to decide whether patients are in a minimally conscious state (MCS), in which there is some evidence of awareness and response to stimuli, or are in a vegetative state (VS) also known as unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, where there is neither, and the chance of recovery is much lower. But up to 40% of patients are misdiagnosed using these examinations.
JAMA Neurology is publishing online a Viewpoint written by Cornelia I. Bargmann, Ph.D., of Rockefeller University, New York, and William T. Newsome, Ph.D., of Stanford University, California, who are neuroscientists and co-chairs of the working group of the advisory committee to the National Institutes of Health director responsible for planning the scientific program of the BRAIN Initiative.
JAMA Neurology Viewpoint
Excerpts of the article are highlighted below:
“On April 2, 2013, President Obama announced the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a partnership between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, private foundations and researchers.”
In this month’s edition of Physics World, professional “science doodler” Perrin Ireland gives her unique take on one of Richard Feynman’s famous lectures, 50 years after it was first delivered.
The doodle is made up of an array of small, colourful, cartoon-like pictures that merge into one big collage representing Feynman’s “The Great Conservation Principles” lecture that he gave at Cornell University in 1964 – one of the first of Feynman’s lectures to be captured on film.
The doodle, which was commissioned as part of Physics World’s special issue on education, includes two spaceships passing each other to illustrate Einstein’s theory of relativity, two gods playing chess as a description of nature, and a child playing with building blocks to illustrate the law of the conservation of energy.
Ireland first adopted the doodle technique while studying for a human biology degree at Brown University and it became so helpful that her coursemates began asking for copies of her creations.
Chicago – The use of the medication citalopram was associated with a reduction in agitation in patients with Alzheimer disease, although at the dosage used in the study, patients experienced mild cognitive and cardiac adverse effects that might limit the practical application of this medication at the dosage of 30 mg per day, according to a study in the February 19 issue of JAMA.
Agitation, which is common in patients with Alzheimer disease, is persistent, difficult to treat, costly, and associated with severe adverse consequences for patients and caregivers. Pharmacologic therapies have proven inadequate and antipsychotic drugs continue to be widely used for this condition despite serious safety concerns, including increased risk of death, and uncertain efficacy, according to background information in the article. Citalopram, an antidepressant drug frequently used in older individuals, has been proposed as an alternative to antipsychotic drugs for agitation and aggression in dementia, yet there is limited evidence for its efficacy and safety.