Brain’s Magnetic Fields Reveal Language Delays in Autism
Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) process sound and language a fraction of a second slower than typically developing children, according to research led by Timothy Roberts, PhD, vice chair of research the Department of Radiology and holder of the Oberkircher Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Radiology. The research team used magnetoencephalography to detect magnetic fields in the brain of 25 children with ASDs and 17 typically developing children and found that the children with ASDs had an average delay of 11 milliseconds when compared to control subjects. This finding, published in Autism Research, suggests that the auditory system may be slower to develop and mature in children with ASDs and the delays these children experience may cascade as a conversation progresses, causing them to lag behind their peers. While more work is needed, the magnetic signals that mark this pattern of delayed brain response may be refined into a standardized way to diagnose autism.