New technique called Automated Fiber Quantification to help understand brain changes in Autism Spectrum disorder

A new study found significant changes in white matter pathways in the brains of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a novel technique called Automated Fiber Quantification (AFQ). Evidence of both increases and decreases in diffusion across white matter tracts and the relationship of these changes to patient age are reported in journal Brain Connectivity.

Automated Fiber Quantification gives researchers access to diffusion information along an entire tract of white matter, instead of having to rely on average measures, which may improve their ability to identify clinical differences that are linked to microstructural changes in the brain.

“Autism researchers have hypothesized that the disorder is caused by large-scale disruptions in brain connectivity,” says Christopher Pawela, Ph.D., Co-Editor-in-Chief of Brain Connectivity and Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin. “Lauren Libero and colleagues support this hypothesis by demonstrating that subtle alteration of white matter tracts, which are the structural wiring system in the brain, are present in affected individuals. They performed this work using their newly developed magnetic resonance imaging methodology that provides increased sensitivity to white matter changes.”

Citation: “White Matter Diffusion of Major Fiber Tracts Implicated in Autism Spectrum Disorder”.  Lauren E. Libero, Wesley K. Burge, Hrishikesh D. Deshpande, Franco Pestilli, and Rajesh K. Kana. Brain Connectivity 2016 vol: 6 (9) pp: 691-699.
DOI: 10.1089/brain.2016.0442
Adapted from press release by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers.