Neuroimaging of Young Children at High Risk for Autism (funded through NAAR)
In this project, Dr. Herbert obtained MRI scans of siblings of individuals with autism at about the time of their 14-month old evaluations. These MRI scans have the potential to provide unique and crucial data related to the earliest signs of abnormal development in children who may later receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Although many of the brain abnormalities present in autism are believed to occur prior to birth, there appear to be some abnormalities that occur after birth. Research has shown that head and brain size in individuals with autism are normal at birth but grow faster than normal during the first years of life. It has been suggested that this early increase is due to an increased amount of white matter. Dr. Herbert analyzed the MRI scans to learn about the size of various brain structures and to obtain information about the tissue characteristics in different parts of the brain. This research may provide a greater understanding about such abnormal brain growth and may lead to treatments designed to normalize the process.
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