Dec 032010
Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...
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A fast and accurate test for Autism has been developed by researchers at McLean Hospital and the University of Utah.

It is hoped that the biologically based test, which uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity, can replace the subjective test currently used for diagnosis of the condition.

MRI is used in the test to detect deviations in brain circuitry in a process called “diffusion tensor imaging.”

“It provides pictures and measurements of the microscopic fiber structures of the brain that enable language, social, and emotional functioning, which can reveal deviations that are not found in those without autism,” Nicholas Lange, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of theNeurostatistics Laboratory at McLean Hospital, said. “This is not yet ready for prime time use in the clinic yet, but the findings are the most promising thus far.”

In the so-named Lange-Lainhart test, subjects were put in an MRI scanner that was programmed to be sensitive to water diffusion along the axons of the brain to measure microscopic features of the brain’s circuitry. The test was able to detect the disorder in individuals with high-functioning autism with 94 percent accuracy.

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