Scientists Unravel Neural Circuit That Could be Key in Autism
[Source: Medical News Today]
The insular cortex is an integral “hub”, combining sensory, emotional and cognitive content. Not surprisingly, alterations in insular structure and function have been reported in many psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Scientists from Harvard University and the Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried now describe consistent alterations in integrative processing of the insular cortex across autism mouse models of diverse etiologies. In particular, the delicate balance between excitation and inhibition in the autistic brains was disturbed, but could be pharmacologically re-adjusted. The results could help the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviors. Diagnosis is solely based on behavioral analysis as biological markers and neurological underpinnings remain unknown. This makes the development of novel therapeutic strategies extremely difficult.
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