Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Autistic brains create more information at rest, study show

Date:
January 31, 2014
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
New research finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest -- a 42 percent increase on average. The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism -- withdrawal into one's own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child's detachment from their environment.

Artist's illustration. Autistic children's brains at rest generate more information than non-autistic children. This may explain their lack of interest in external stimuli, including interactions with other people.
Credit: © adimas / Fotolia

New research from Case Western Reserve University and University of Toronto neuroscientists finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest -- a 42% increase on average. The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism -- withdrawal into one's own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child's detachment from their environment.

Published at the end of December in Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, this study is a follow-up to the authors' prior finding that brain connections are different in autistic children. This paper determined that the differences account for the increased complexity within their brains.

"Our results suggest that autistic children are not interested in social interactions because their brains generate more information at rest, which we interpret as more introspection in line with early descriptions of the disorder," said Roberto Fernández Galán, PhD, senior author and associate professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

The authors quantified information as engineers normally do but instead of applying it to signals in electronic devices, they applied it to brain activity recorded with magnetoencephalography (MEG). They showed that autistic children's brains at rest generate more information than non-autistic children. This may explain their lack of interest in external stimuli, including interactions with other people.

The researchers also quantified interactions between brain regions, i.e., the brain's functional connectivity, and determined the inputs to the brain in the resting state allowing them to interpret the children's introspection level.

"This is a novel interpretation because it is a different attempt to understand the children's cognition by analyzing their brain activity," said José L. Pérez Velázquez, PhD, first author and professor of neuroscience at University of Toronto Institute of Medical Science and Department of Pediatrics, Brain and Behavior Center. "Measuring cognitive processes is not trivial; yet, our findings indicate that this can be done to some extent with well-established mathematical tools from physics and engineering."

This study provides quantitative support for the relatively new "Intense World Theory" of autism proposed by neuroscientists Henry and Kamila Markram of the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland, which describes the disorder as the result of hyper-functioning neural circuitry, leading to a state of over-arousal. More generally, the work of Galán and Pérez Velázquez is an initial step in the investigation of how information generation in the brain relates to cognitive/psychological traits and will begin to frame neurophysiological data into psychological aspects. The team now aims to apply a similar approach to patients with schizophrenia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. The original article was written by Jessica Studeny. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. José L. Pérez Velázquez, Roberto F. Galán. Information gain in the brain's resting state: A new perspective on autism. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, 2013; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fninf.2013.00037

Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Autistic brains create more information at rest, study show." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140131130630.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2014, January 31). Autistic brains create more information at rest, study show. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140131130630.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Autistic brains create more information at rest, study show." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140131130630.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
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