Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early treatment sparks striking brain changes in autism

Date:
November 6, 2012
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
When given early treatment, children with autism spectrum disorders made significant improvements in behavior, communication, and most strikingly, brain function, researchers report.

When given early treatment, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) made significant improvements in behavior, communication, and most strikingly, brain function, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in a new study.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University

When given early treatment, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) made significant improvements in behavior, communication, and most strikingly, brain function, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in a new study.

The study was published in the current issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by Yale Child Study Center researchers Dr. Fred Volkmar, Kevin A. Pelphrey, and their colleagues.

The results suggest that brain systems supporting social perception respond well to an early intervention behavioral program called pivotal response treatment. This treatment includes parent training, and employs play in its methods.

ASDs are complex neurobiological disorders that inhibit a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and are often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Until recently, autism diagnosis typically did not occur until a child was about three- to five-years-old, and treatment programs were geared for this older age group. Today, Volkmar and his team are diagnosing children as young as age one. Pivotal response treatment, developed at the University of California-Santa Barbara, combines developmental aspects of learning and development, and is easy to implement in children younger than age two.

In the current study, the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging -- for the first time -- to measure changes in brain activity after two five-year-olds with ASD received pivotal response treatment. Study co-author Pamela Ventola used this treatment method to identify distinct behavioral goals for each child in the study, and then reinforced these targeted skills with treatment involving motivational play activities.

The team found that children who received this treatment showed improvements in behavior, and being able to talk to other people. In addition, the MRI and electroencephalogram revealed increased brain activity in the regions supporting social perception.

Their results are from two children, but the researchers are currently conducting a full-scale study of 60 children. Pelphrey said that while both children in the current study received the same type of treatment for ASD, the results were not homogenous because ASD is a multi-faceted disorder that has a unique effect on each child. Some children with ASD function on a higher level than others, for example.

"ASD is a heterogeneous disorder, and research aimed at understanding treatment must address this heterogeneity," said Pelphrey. "Both the children in our current study made progress, but their degree of progress and level of skills at the end of treatment were distinct."

Volkmar sees these results as a first step in a novel approach to treatment planning.

"Autism research has come a long way," he said. "These findings are exciting because they show that early intervention works in autism."

Other authors on the study included first author Avery C. Voos, Jonathan Tirrell, Danielle Bolling, Brent Vander Wyk, Martha D. Kaiser, and James C. McPartland.

Funding for the study came from the Harris Professorship at Yale Child Study Center given to Kevin A. Pelphrey; Allied World; and National Institute of Mental Health grant K23MH86785. This research was also made possible by CTSA Grant Number UL1 RR024139 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH roadmap for Medical Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Avery C. Voos, Kevin A. Pelphrey, Jonathan Tirrell, Danielle Z. Bolling, Brent Vander Wyk, Martha D. Kaiser, James C. McPartland, Fred R. Volkmar, Pamela Ventola. Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation After Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case Studies. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1683-9

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Early treatment sparks striking brain changes in autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106125606.htm>.
Yale University. (2012, November 6). Early treatment sparks striking brain changes in autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106125606.htm
Yale University. "Early treatment sparks striking brain changes in autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106125606.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins