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Next: Harnessing brain scans to personalize autism-related behavioral interventions

pet_imagingAutism First: Brain Pat­terns May Pre­dict Treat­ment Response (Med­scape):

It’s pos­si­ble to pre­dict whether a young child with autism spec­trum dis­or­der (ASD) will respond to an evi­dence-based behav­ioral inter­ven­tion by ana­lyz­ing brain activ­i­ty pat­terns with func­tion­al MRI (fMRI) pri­or to treat­ment, new research sug­gests…

We [cur­rent­ly] have no way to pre­dict a child’s out­come and to match a child to a par­tic­u­lar inter­ven­tion or deter­mine which chil­dren have the best chance to respond to a par­tic­u­lar treat­ment”… The researchers inves­ti­gat­ed the accu­ra­cy of fMRI neu­ro­bio­mark­ers in pre­dict­ing response to PRT in sev­en girls and 13 boys with ASD (mean age, 5.9 years).

This dis­cov­ery might lead to fur­ther devel­op­ment of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine in ASD,” lead author Daniel Y. J. Yang, PhD, pre­vi­ous­ly of Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, now with the Autism and Neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal Dis­or­ders Insti­tute, the George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and Chil­dren’s Nation­al Health Sys­tem, in Wash­ing­ton, DC, told Med­scape Med­ical News.

For exam­ple, pre­treat­ment fMRI or elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy “may be used to facil­i­tate the fit­ting process when fam­i­lies want to iden­ti­fy appro­pri­ate and effec­tive treat­ments for their chil­dren,” he explained.

Study: Brain respons­es to bio­log­i­cal motion pre­dict treat­ment out­come in young chil­dren with autism (Trans­la­tion­al Psy­chi­a­try)

  • Abstract: Autism spec­trum dis­or­ders (ASDs) are com­mon yet com­plex neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­ders, char­ac­ter­ized by social, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and behav­ioral deficits. Behav­ioral inter­ven­tions have shown favor­able results—however, the promise of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine in ASD is ham­pered by a lack of sen­si­tive, objec­tive neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal mark­ers (neu­ro­bio­mark­ers) to iden­ti­fy sub­groups of young chil­dren like­ly to respond to spe­cif­ic treat­ments. Such neu­ro­bio­mark­ers are essen­tial because ear­ly child­hood pro­vides a sen­si­tive win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty for inter­ven­tion, while unsuc­cess­ful inter­ven­tion is cost­ly to chil­dren, fam­i­lies and soci­ety. In young chil­dren with ASD, we show that func­tion­al mag­net­ic res­o­nance imag­ing-based strat­i­fi­ca­tion neu­ro­bio­mark­ers accu­rate­ly pre­dict respons­es to an evi­dence-based behav­ioral treatment—pivotal response treat­ment. Neur­al pre­dic­tors were iden­ti­fied in the pre­treat­ment lev­els of activ­i­ty in response to bio­log­i­cal vs scram­bled motion in the neur­al cir­cuits that sup­port social infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing (supe­ri­or tem­po­ral sul­cus, fusiform gyrus, amyg­dala, infe­ri­or pari­etal cor­tex and supe­ri­or pari­etal lob­ule) and social motivation/reward (orbitofrontal cor­tex, insu­la, puta­men, pal­lidum and ven­tral stria­tum). The pre­dic­tive val­ue of our find­ings for indi­vid­ual chil­dren with ASD was sup­port­ed by a mul­ti­vari­ate pat­tern analy­sis with cross val­i­da­tion. Pre­dict­ing who will respond to a par­tic­u­lar treat­ment for ASD, we believe the cur­rent find­ings mark the very first evi­dence of prediction/stratification bio­mark­ers in young chil­dren with ASD. The impli­ca­tions of the find­ings are far reach­ing and should great­ly accel­er­ate progress toward more pre­cise and effec­tive treat­ments for core deficits in ASD.

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