News | May 31, 2011

New MRI Research May Lead to Improved Diagnosis of Autism

May 31, 2011 – Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may provide an early and objective indicator of autism, according to researchers at Columbia University in New York City, who used the technique to document language impairment in autistic children. Results of their study appear online and in the August issue of Radiology.

Autism is a spectrum disorder characterized by repetitive behaviors and impaired language, communication and social interactions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that as many as one in every 110 children is affected by autism.

“With the extraordinarily high prevalence of autism, you would think there would be an objective diagnosis for the disorder,” said Joy Hirsch, Ph.D., a professor at Columbia University Medical School and director of the Functional MRI Laboratory. “However, the diagnosis of autism currently remains limited to parent and clinician observation of missed developmental milestones.”

In the study, researchers performed fMRI exams on 15 control children (mean age: 12.1) and 12 language-impaired and age-matched autistic children (mean age: 12.4). Using fMRI, the researchers were able to measure neural activity in working brain tissues while the children listened to recordings of their parents talking to them.

Activation levels during passive stimulation were measured within two regions of the brain: the primary auditory cortex (A1) and superior temporal gyrus (STG), a region associated with sentence comprehension. Brain activation maps for each patient were then computed using statistical linear modeling.

Activity in the A1 region of the brain did not differ between autistic and control patients. However, activation within the STG was greater for control children relative to autistic patients.

“These findings first tell us that the autistic children in our study appeared normal with respect to the primary auditory system,” Hirsch said. “But it appears that the STG in the autistic brains was not as sensitive to the language narratives as was the STG in the brains of the typical children.”

An additional 27 autistic children undergoing routine MRI exams with sedation were also included in the study. Using a similar analysis of sedation-adjusted values from the control group, the researchers identified 26 of 27 (96 percent) sedated autistic patients with autism.

“This study suggests that fMRI acquired during listening to a language narrative can be used to distinguish children with autism from those without,” Hirsch said. “Based on these initial findings, future studies using these or similar fMRI methods may result in an early and objective imaging indicator for autism.”

Some children with autism spectrum disorders can benefit from intensive behavior therapy, but early intervention is key.

“The need for an early, objective diagnosis is enormous,” Hirsch said.

The title of the study is “Speech Stimulation during Functional MR Imaging as a Potential Indicator of Autism.” Collaborating with Hirsch were Grace Lai, Ph.D., Harry D. Schneider, M.D., and Johanna C. Schwarzenberger, M.D.

For more information: RadiologyInfo.org

Related Content

Philips Launches IntelliSpace Discovery Research Platform at RSNA
Technology | Artificial Intelligence | November 20, 2018
Ahead of the 2018 Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA), Nov. 25-30 in Chicago, Royal Philips...
Bay Labs and Northwestern Medicine Enroll First Patient in AI Echocardiography Study
News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | November 19, 2018
Medical artificial intelligence (AI) company Bay Labs and Northwestern Medicine announced that the first patient has...
Immune Inflammatory Levels Linked to Disease-Free Survival in Prostate Cancer
News | Prostate Cancer | November 19, 2018
Data from a validation study of a high-risk prostate cancer trial suggests that higher levels of pretreatment...
Canon Medical Receives FDA Clearance for Vantage Orian 1.5T MRI
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | November 15, 2018
Canon Medical Systems USA Inc. received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its new...
Life Image and Mendel.ai Bringing Artificial Intelligence to Clinical Trial Development
News | Artificial Intelligence | November 15, 2018
Life Image and Mendel.ai announced a new strategic partnership that will facilitate the adoption and enhancement of...
Artificial Intelligence Predicts Alzheimer's Years Before Diagnosis
News | Neuro Imaging | November 14, 2018
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology improves the ability of brain imaging to predict Alzheimer’s disease, according...
Researchers Awarded 2018 Canon Medical Systems USA/RSNA Research Grants
News | Radiology Imaging | November 13, 2018
The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Research & Education (R&E) Foundation recently announced the...
Subtle Medical Showcases Artificial Intelligence for PET, MRI Scans at RSNA 2018
News | Artificial Intelligence | November 13, 2018
At the 2018 Radiological Society of North America annual meeting (RSNA 2018), Nov. 25-30 in Chicago, Subtle Medical...
This is the Siemens Magnetom Sola RT edition 1.5T MRI system optimized for radiation therapy displayed for the first time since gaining FDA clearance in 2018. It was displayed at the American Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ASTRO) 2018 annual meeting. Read more about this system at ASTRO 2018. #ASTRO18 #ASTRO2018
360 Photos | 360 View Photos | November 07, 2018
This is the Siemens Magnetom Sola RT edition 1.5T MRI system optimized for...