Brain Network Connections May Help Identify Early Autism Risk in Children

Researchers at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, with colleagues from the multicenter Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) network, have found associations between brain connectivity and social behaviors that are central features of autism, which could jump-start efforts to begin therapies that might help improve a child’s language and social skills.

John R. Pruett, MD, PhD, professor of child psychiatry of radiology, is the study’s senior author and Adam T. Eggebrecht, PhD, instructor in radiology, is the study’s first author. They used functional MRI scans to identify brain networks involved in a phenomenon called initiation of joint attention, which has been linked to language development and is impaired in children with autism spectrum disorder. The findings are published online in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

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