Cortico-Cerebellar Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Cortico-Cerebellar Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Although the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is renowned to be a connectivity disorder and a condition characterized by cerebellar involvement, the connectivity between the cerebellum and other cortical brain regions is particularly underexamined. Indeed, converging evidence has recently suggested that the cerebellum could play a key role in the etiopathogenesis of ASD, since cerebellar anomalies have been consistently reported in ASD from the molecular to the behavioral level, and damage to the cerebellum early in development has been linked with signs of autistic features. In addition, current data have shown that the cerebellum is a key structure not only for sensory-motor control, but also for “higher functions,” such as social cognition and emotion, through its extensive connections with cortical areas. The disruption of these circuits could be implicated in the wide range of autistic symptoms that the term “spectrum” connotes. In this review, we present and discuss the recent findings from imaging studies that investigated cortico-cerebellar connectivity in people with ASD. The literature is still too limited to allow for definitive conclusions; however, this brief review reveals substantial areas for future studies, underlining currently unmet research perspectives.

Full Article

my old preposition which seems to relate somewhat

Common ground for many psychiatric disorders

Yep, autism isn’t on the rise.

Yep, autism isn’t on the rise.

As always with sudden increases the method of measuring has changed

The number of U.S. school children placed in special education programs due to autism more than tripled from 2000 to 2010, to nearly 420,000. But a new study argues much of that increase likely came as educators swapped one diagnosis for another. The overall percentage of kids diagnosed with a collection of brain development problems that includes autism remained unchanged, suggesting that children who used to be labeled with conditions such as “intellectual disability” were in fact autistic.“If you asked me, ‘Is there a real increase in the prevalence of autism?’ maybe there is, but probably much lower than the reported magnitude,” says Santhosh Girirajan, a geneticist at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), University Park.In the new study, Girirajan and colleagues combed through data collected in each state for approximately 6.2 million U.S. school children with disabilities who are enrolled in special education programs. The information is collected each year under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Based on his or her diagnosis, each child was assigned to one of 13 broader categories, ranging from autism to physical challenges such as blindness.Between 2000 and 2010, the number of children in the autism category more than tripled from 93,624 in 2000 to 419,647 a decade later. Yet nearly two-thirds of that increase was matched by a decline in the rate at which children were labeled as having an “intellectual disability.” The number of kids in that category fell from 637,270 to 457,478.The data indicate that the autism rise is partly the result of students being moved from one category to another, Girirajan says.

New Science magazine

Link Autism and Vaccination revisited part MDXXII

Link Autism and Vaccination revisited part MDXXII

Obviously those hysterical believers in any causal link between Vaccination and diverse neurological disorders will never ever accept anything as mundane as simple empirical data, but still maybe this might reach the more rational persons

Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism

Conclusions and Relevance  

In this large sample of privately insured children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD, regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD.

JAMA Full Free Article

Employment: The Autism Advantage

Employment: The Autism Advantage

Employment: The Autism Advantage

A guest post by Amir Tal, PhD

The General Assembly of the United Nations designated April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. Their decision was driven by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), which states children and adults with disabilities should “enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the person’s active participation in the community, as well as the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other persons”.

The 2015 World Autism Awareness Day theme chosen is “Employment: The Autism Advantage.” People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), their families, employers and society as a whole benefits from employment inclusion of people with ASD.

Employment plays a central role in the lives for most adults in western world, including those with ASD. Holding a job not only affords increased economic resources but also enhances personal activity, sense of identity and self-worth, social inclusion, and physical and mental health. Unfortunately, despite decades-old employment programs for people with ASD, research indicates that 65-80% of adults with ASD (including individuals who are considered to be higher functioning) are unemployed. They’re also likely to experience underemployment, change jobs frequently, have difficulty adjusting to new job settings and gain make less money than their peers.

Our mission is to convey to the business world that hiring, retaining and promoting workers with ASD brings greater benefits beyond just filling an open job. Research driven data indicates that workers with ASD can contribute to the business’s overall competitiveness with increased productivity, greater market share and lower job turnover rates. Employers’ testimonies indicate that qualified workers with ASD may demonstrate high skills in some or all of the following domains:

  • attention to detail and intense focus
  • Problem-solving skills
  • High levels of concentration
  • Reliability and loyalty
  • Technical ability and specialist skills and interests such as in IT
  • Detailed factual knowledge and an excellent memory retention
  • Abilities to cope and overcome challenges

Furthermore, businesses that provide equal opportunities and job accommodations to people with ASD usually report reduced employee turnover, increased employee loyalty, and increased morale and productivity of other employees. Since people with disabilities (including people with ASD) represent a market for goods and services with more than $200 Billion in discretionary income and of an estimated $1 Trillion in aggregate income, hiring people with ASD may provide businesses an inside advantage to an expanded customer base. In the same vein, people with ASD and their families tend to prioritize businesses that promote accessibility and equal opportunities for workers and costumers with ASD. Finally, surveys indicate that hiring workers with ASD may increase the business brand image with consumers in general.

Full Article

I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles

I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles

Having Aspergers myself the following really speaks to me, unfortunately it’s on YASM (yet another social medium) so i can’t repost it, nor give it it’s due there. So this is my way of giving it it’s credit

The autistic brain is not particularly good at understanding irony, and yet most people I’ve met on the autism spectrum have, over time, developed a pretty strong grasp of the concept. Many of us have even managed to teach ourselves how to wield it. I’ve begun to suspect that this is due to our constant hands-on experience.

Having an autism spectrum disorder in an ableist world means that you’re constantly exposed to cruel irony. Most frequently, this comes in the form of neurotypical (i.e. non-autistic) people who tell you, incorrectly, that you can’t or don’t feel empathy like them, and then stubbornly refuse to care about your feelings when they claim that you’re lost, that you’re a burden, and that your life is a constant source of misery for you and everyone who loves you. There’s also my current favorite: parents who are willing to put the lives of countless human beings at risk because they’re so afraid that the mercury fairy will gives their kids a tragic case of autism if they vaccinate. Gotta protect the kids from not being able to feel empathy — who cares whether other children live or die?

No matter what other lofty ideas of toxins and vaccine-related injury anti-vaxxers try to float around in their defense, that’s really what all of this is about: we’re facing a massive public health crisis because a disturbing number of people believe that autism is worse than illness or death. My neurology is the boogeyman behind a completely preventable plague in the making.

The anti-vaccination movement is a particularly bitter issue for me because it doesn’t just dehumanize me as an autistic person; it also sets off two of my biggest triggers. Like many people on the spectrum, I don’t handle it well when people are 1) wrong, and 2) unfair.

The Full Post

How the anatomical structure of the brain impacts its functional networks?

Today I want to offer an interesting paper by Andreas et al (2013) that sought to determine how the anatomical structure of the brain impacts its functional networks. I think that their interesting findings (see abstract below) may contribute to a better understanding of brain functioning in healthy people and people with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Enjoy!

How the anatomical structure of the brain impacts its functional networks?.