It is important to gain a solid understanding of what Autism is and how it effects someone later in life. It is a developmental disorder that alters mainly behaviors as a child grows older. For high risk infants, MRI’s are done in order to see how efficient the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes are performing to give a proper diagnosis. But these tests are not always done in a timely fashion, so the diagnosis is prolonged and ultimately too late for some with severe symptoms at a young age.
But how early can Autism in children be detected? In a recent study at McGill University, 260 infants ranging in ages 6-12 months had MRI’s to test how efficient their brain regions were operating. This was tested in order to have an estimate of their overall network efficiency, or risk of Autism. The infants were a mix of high and low risk for developing Autism, even though it has not yet been proven that it is a completely inherited disorder. This supports the reasoning as to why studying the brain at a young age is necessary; to observe if Autism is inherited, or the environment plays into the development of Autism. In a previous study, children at two years old with Autism had a poor network efficiency, leading us to wonder how early these deficiencies can be detected.
The fact that the inefficiency in the brain gave us a better insight on the severity of the disorder makes it even more crucial to diagnose at an early age. Giving families a heads up on how the disorder may affect their future depending on the severity of it is positive information to have. It gives families more time to prepare and be proactive in raising a child with a disorder. The early diagnosis can further our knowledge into how infants are born with Autism, as well as what genetic and environmental factors play a role in this abnormality. The research that was done at McGill University holds up to the age at which Autism can be detected through how efficient the regions of the brain are connecting at six months.
I chose to leave out super scientific terms that were hard for me to understand while reading the article initially, this way my summary can be as concise as possible. It was also important that I left out information that was not relevant to the study, such as the lengths and strengths of the network connections in the brain and how these pathways work. This information was very anatomy based, and not necessary to know in order to grasp the goal of the study. My summary is different in the way I explain how the regions of the brain perform together as a unit in order to have levels of network efficiency. I break down how this network efficiency is a main deciding factor in how severe the Autism might be. It also clues scientists into how the disorder may progress over time, even from six months old. Overall, writing this summary held some challenges from the beginning, as I had to re-reads my sources in order to get a grip on the experiment again before writing. I also had a hard time making the summary condensed enough; I truly felt that every detail was important for the reader to know, even though this was not allowed in an abbreviated version of the article. It is hard to write about Psychology due to how one must use logical terms, but also scientific terms in order to successfully explain an experiment. This was another obstacle that I had to conquer while summarizing this article, but was something that the article critiques in the past have helped master. Writing about an experiment in Psychology is much harder than I originally thought, but has made me gain a greater appreciation for articles like this one.