Brains of People with Autism Focus More on Visual
MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- The brains of people with
autism concentrate more resources in areas devoted to visual
perception, resulting in less activity in areas used to plan and
control thoughts and actions, says a new study.
The findings may explain why people with autism have exceptional
visual abilities, said the researchers at the University of
They analyzed data from 26 brain imaging studies that were
conducted over 15 years and included a total of 357 autistic and
370 non-autistic participants.
"Through this meta-analysis, we were able to observe that autistics exhibit more activity in the temporal and occipital regions and less activity in frontal cortex than non-autistics," first author Fabienne Samson said in a university news release.
The temporal and occipital regions are involved in perceiving
and recognizing patterns and objects, while the frontal areas are
involved with decision making, cognitive control, planning and
execution, she explained.
The findings offer the "first physiological confirmation that
enhanced perceptual processing is a core feature of neural
organization in this population," Dr. Laurent Mottron, of the
university's Centre for Excellence in Pervasive Development
Disorders, said in the news release. "We now have a very strong
statement about autism functioning, which may be ground for
cognitive accounts of autistic perception, learning, memory and
According to the study, the finding shows that the autistic
brain successfully adapts some of its cognitive functioning by
reallocating brain areas to visual perception. The results may
point the way to new areas of autism research.
The study appears April 4 in the journal
Human Brain Mapping.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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