Study finds biological behavior-Brain link for set of neurodevelopmental disorders
Orange County, CA - August 2nd 2016 - Findings published in early July to the American Journal of Psychiatry made strides in understanding child brain development and interrelation of structure with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Currently, these conditions affect an estimated 15 percent of Children and adolescents.
A sample of 200 children were scanned using a type of MRI called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), allowing scientists to compare their brain’s white matter. White matter is composed of bundles of nerve cells that transmit messages among various regions in the brain. When compared to children without a neurodevelopmental disorder, children with ASD, ADHD, or OCD exhibited abnormalities in their corpus callosum, the largest white matter tract connecting the left and right sides of the brain.
In addition, children with ASD or ADHD displayed more severe impairments affecting white matter when compared to their OCD counterparts. According to Dr. Stephanie Ames, lead author and clinician-scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, the difference in severity may be due to the onset age, which is younger in the preceding conditions than that of the latter.
To conduct their study, researchers compared variables by combining behavioral measures with diffusion imaging. These measures included general adaptive functioning, inattention, and social deficits. As for obsessive-compulsive symptoms, they were compared with white matter indices created by the imaging scans.
Though they share common symptoms and genetic links, the disorders have historically been researched as separate entities. Studying them together is a tenant of the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders Network (POND), which seeks to examine brain disorders in children collectively to foster development of more effective therapies.
According to Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou of Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation Hospital and head of the POND network, the study provides biological evidence that brain structure is correlated to behavioral symptoms, regardless of developmental conditions. As a result, treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders may also be related.
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