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"Daydreaming" Network Fails In Autism

by Medindia Content Team on May 13, 2006 at 8:21 PM
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A study by researchers at the University of California, appearing in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that people with autism never "daydream" The researchers arrived at this conclusion after comparing the brain scans of people having autism and those not affected by the disease.

During the resting period of the brain, emotions and thoughts are processed. However this does not happen in autistic individuals. Scientists speculate that such patients are awkward socially since there is no daydreaming network. Regions of the brain like the "medial prefrontal cortex, the rostral anterior cingulate and the precuneus" are pretty active during this stage.

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Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans; the researchers monitored 15 autistic patients and compared their scans with 15 healthy individuals. They found that the rest period activity was absent in autism-affected individuals.

"We speculate that the lack of deactivation in the autism group is indicative of abnormal internally directed processes at rest, which may be an important contribution to the social and emotional deficits of autism," the researchers wrote.
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Commenting on the study, Richard Mills, director of research for the National Autistic Society and Research Autism said, "This study sheds further light on the neurological factors involved in autism and some of the possible implications for differences in the cognitive profile and social behaviour."

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