Friday, December 3, 2010

MRIs, Autism & ADHD

I may be wrong, but I think we have another “duh” moment. According to “Brain MRI may lead to early autism detection,” reported by Nicole Ostrow of Bloomberg News, researchers studying 60 children, half diagnosed with mild autism and half without autism, were able to identify autism 94% of the time using magnetic resonance imaging. Specifically, the MRI looked at water diffusion along the brain’s nerve fibers.

The article talks of “the disorder’s biological base,” and objective markers, and early detection.

While there is no doubt that early diagnosis and more objectivity are worthy goals, I have to wonder, if autism is a neurological disorder, and even subjectively, differences in behavior, intellect and communication are readily apparent, isn’t it a given that brain processing will be different? Isn’t this just objective confirmation of what we already know? (and why only 94% success?)

Also, this test does nothing to shed light on the cause of autism. When the article discusses “the disorder’s biological base,” is it suggesting that the differences found in the autistic brain are innate, and thus, the cause of the disorder? Or, is it merely finding changes in the brain caused by some external, environmental insult (which, combined with a genetic disposition of susceptibility to such harm, is what we believe to be the true cause of the disorder)? If it’s the latter, are these differences in brain processing really a “biological base”?

And, another thought, this one regarding ADHD. We’ve always maintained that disorders like ADHD are part of the ASD spectrum (and there are researchers out there who apparently believe likewise). That is, that whatever is causing the ASD epidemic also is causing the ADHD epidemic. It’s just a different degree of effect and a different manifestation. I’ll bet if the same MRI studies were done on kids diagnosed with ADHD, the researchers would find that the ADHD brains also process information differently.

If that’s the case, then you have to wonder. We were always told by Robert’s doctors that ADHD was caused by a brain chemistry imbalance with respect to certain neurotransmitters, and that drugs were the only way to address his issues.

If the ADHD brain, like the autistic brain, processes information differently, is that really the result of a “neurotransmitter imbalance?” And, more to the point, how can messing with those neurotransmitters, as the ADHD meds are theorized to do, really fix the problem?

Just a thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment