News | November 29, 2007

Diffusion Tensor Imaging Shows Gray Matter Increase in Brains of Autistic Children

November 29, 2007 - Researchers studying autistic children have found, through the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), increased gray matter in the brain areas that govern social processing and learning by observation. Results of the study conducted at the Fay J. Lindner Center for Autism, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Bethpage, N.Y., were at RSNA.

"Our findings suggest that the inability of autistic children to relate to people and life situations in an ordinary way may be the result of an abnormally functioning mirror neuron system," said lead author Manzar Ashtari, Ph.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Mirror neurons are brain cells that are active both when an individual is performing an action and experiencing an emotion or sensation, and when that individual witnesses the same actions, emotions and sensations in others. Dr. Ashtari's study found the autistic children had increased gray matter in brain regions of the parietal lobes implicated in the mirror neuron system.

The study included 13 male patients with an average of 11 years diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome and an IQ greater than 70 and 12 healthy control adolescents. Each of the patients underwent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a technique that tracks the movement of water molecules in the brain.

Traditionally used to study the brain's white matter, as well as the brain fibers, Dr. Ashtari's team applied DTI to the assessment of gray matter by employing apparent diffusion coefficient based morphometry (ABM), a new method that highlights brain regions with potential gray matter volume changes. By adding ABM to DTI, the researchers can detect subtle regional or localized changes in the gray matter.

"In the normal brain, larger amounts of gray matter are associated with higher IQs," Dr. Ashtari said. "But in the autistic brain, increased gray matter does not correspond to IQ, because this gray matter is not functioning properly."

The autistic children also evidenced a significant decrease of gray matter in the right amygdala region that correlated with severity of social impairment. Children with lower gray matter volumes in this area of the brain had lower scores on reciprocity and social interaction measures.

"Impairments in these areas are the hallmark of autism spectrum disorders, and this finding may lead to greater understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of the core features of autism," said study co-author Joel Bregman, M.D., medical director of the Fay J. Lindner Center for Autism.

For more information: www.rsna.org

Related Content

American College of Radiology Releases New Patient-Oriented Appropriateness Criteria Summaries
News | Patient Engagement | January 19, 2018
January 19, 2018 — New Appropriateness Criteria (AC) Patient Summaries from the American College of Radiology (ACR) c
National Clinical Decision Support Company (NDSC) has an exclusive deal with the American College of Radiology (ACR) to provide medical imaging appropriate use criteria (AUC).

National Clinical Decision Support Company (NDSC) has an exclusive deal with the American College of Radiology (ACR) to provide medical imaging appropriate use criteria (AUC). 

Feature | Clinical Decision Support | January 18, 2018
January 18, 2018 — Change Healthcare announced the acquisition of National Decision Support Company (NDSC), a leader
Philips Introduces Technology Maximizer Program for Imaging Equipment Upgrades
Technology | Imaging | January 17, 2018
January 17, 2018 — Philips recently announced the launch of Technology Maximizer, a cross-modality program designed t
RSNA 2017 Celebrates Innovation in Radiology
News | Imaging | January 15, 2018
January 15, 2018 — The Radiological Society of North America’s...

Size comparison between 3-D printed prosthesis implant and a penny.

News | 3-D Printing | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 — Researchers using...
RSNA 2017 technical exhibits, expo floor, showing new radiology technology advances.
Feature | RSNA 2017 | January 11, 2018
January 11, 2018 — Here is a list of some of the key clinical study presentations, articles on trends and videos from
The artificial intelligence (AI) smart algorithm onboard the Infervision stroke product calculates the volume of bleed on the basis of multiple brain CT slices.

The AI smart algorithm onboard the Infervision stroke product calculates the volume of bleed on the basis of multiple brain CT slices. The size of the bleed volume indicates the urgency and type of treatment required.

Feature | Artificial Intelligence | January 10, 2018 | Greg Freiherr
Exhibitors at the 2017 Radiological Society of North American (RSNA) meeting rode the...
Upcoming radiology conferences, meetings and events. This photo is from the 2017 RSNA opening session.
News | January 09, 2018
ITN maintains a comprehensive listing of radiology specialty meetings on its website at ...
The new GE Healthcare Air Technology MRI coil design is 60 percent lighter than conventional coils, provides more flexibility and conforms to a patient’s anatomy like a blanket. The technology was unveiled at RSNA 2017 in late November.

The new GE Healthcare Air Technology MRI coil design is 60 percent lighter than conventional coils, provides more flexibility and conforms to a patient’s anatomy like a blanket. The technology was unveiled at RSNA 2017 in late November.

Feature | January 08, 2018 | Dave Fornell
Here is the list of the most popular articles and videos on the Imaging Technology News (ITN) magazine website from t
WEBINAR: Neuroimaging from a Clinical MRI Perspective, sponsored by Philips Healthcare. How to better manage your MRI department.
Webinar | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | January 08, 2018
The CME credit webinar "Neuroimaging from a Clinical MRI Perspective," will explain how imaging departments can becom
Overlay Init