• More Nerve Cells in Brains of Children with Autism may be Reason for Condition

    Researchers unlock one of the key characteristics in the brains of children with autism.
  • brain scanExperts may very well be on the brink of a significant discovery behind autism and finding out more about the origins of this condition in affected children.

    According to a recent study, children with autism have 67 percent more nerve cells in a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex versus other children who did not have autism. The prefrontal cortex is located at the front of the brain and is responsible for making choices between two conflicting thoughts and suppressing certain emotional or physical urges. It is also involved with a person’s intelligence and even his personality.

    Aside from having excess brain cells, children with autism were also found to have 17.6 percent heavier brains than non-autistic counterparts.

    Having more brain cells in the prefrontal cortex, as it is associated with cognitive, emotional, social, as well as language development, may be the very reason why children with autism have problems in these very areas. This came as a surprise to the researchers because children with autism are typically non-social, and this is normally attributed to a lack rather than an excess of brain cells.

    Said lead author Eric Courchesne, Ph.D., "In autism, something is going terribly wrong with mechanisms that control the number of neurons.” This is probably why children with autism have a hard time expressing themselves and showing their feelings. Imagine a tangled pile of wires and extension cords, and you can picture how similarly, having too many brain neurons ends up disrupting the brain’s normal functions.

     

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