Autism: a different brain activity

In some disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, the functioning of certain brain networks is disrupted. On this topic, it is not by comparing the structure of the universe and the brain that researchers have recently succeeded in advancing understanding of the phenomenon, but this time, by using brain images of autistic patients from a great database. Their results were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging,

social implications

When we completely rein in our thoughts, when these are in the form of wandering, several areas of the brain are activated simultaneously, creating the so-called “default mode” network. This is a brain activity that can be seen on brain imaging when the brain is not performing any cognitive function. In general, we don’t always focus on our thoughts, we alternate these inner moments with moments of concentration in relation to the things around us. Thus, the “critical network”, – a sort of attention filter – animated by other brain regions that will be activated at the moments when we recognize what in our environment deserves our attention.

The abnormal functioning of these brain networks would then be unrelated to many of the features of autism. With mental activity being more capable of expanding inner thoughts, those with autism spectrum disorder will have less pronounced motivation and attention to the social environment. Through previous scientific studies, the related implications of such brain networks in the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder have been advanced. Thanks to this new study, the authors go further and focus more on their visual interactions using a tool that will film what’s happening in the brain: functional brain imaging.

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behind the network, the area of ​​the brain

To study the interaction between the two networks (“default mode and “silence mode”), the researchers then observed the activity of brain regions that most neuroscientists already consider central to their functioning. Thus the prefrontal cortex. recognized the median.as a central area of ​​self-relevance and social actionRecognized as an area of ​​the brain of major importance when in “default mode”. For the “salions network”, scientists agree to identify the insula as the structural basis for its existence, a brain structure already known to be involved in many contexts such as social cognition and empathy.

symptoms of brain “Inner Oriented Cognition”

By comparing multiple brain images taken from a large international database of autistic patients with participants with so-called normal brain function, the neuroscientists in the current study note something unusual… a network of “modes” As a default” When the situation calls for it, allowing a reduction in mental activity directed at the individual and internal level to pay attention to what is happening in a given environment.

However, the analyzed imaging data favoring patients with neurodevelopmental disorders testify to a markedly different reality. The brain regions symbolizing the two networks appear more connected. More specifically, the “default mode” network – involved in introspective thoughts and wandering thoughts – is found to be particularly active in these people. The authors suggest that this unusual activity is probably associated with the failure of his partner to evaluate the relevance of external information.

In short, this disturbed interaction between these two regions would be a kind of clue to the abnormal functioning of the disorder because it “may prompt individuals to reduce their attention to the outside world and hence their social interests“, the researchers say. Ultimately, this finding leads the study authors to hope that future research will understand the specifics of the disorder by focusing not on individual regions of the brain, but on multiple regions and networks.

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