Autism and the Use of MRI

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Abstract

In this paper, the relationship between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the use of magnetic resonance imaging will be discussed. Autism is a very common neurodevelopment disorder with many different symptoms. Diagnosing and treating autism can be challenging because of how different every case of ASD truly is. Early detection is important for getting ahead on treating the symptoms that go along with ASD to create more positive outcome for the patients. Using MRI can open the doors for doctors and researchers to learn even more about this disorder and how to treat it. The studies discussed in this paper will explain how the use of structural MRI can allow physician to see how an autistic patient’s brain size and appearance differs from typically developing individuals, and the use of functional MRI can be used to compare the brain’s activity. Sleep fMRI is also discussed in how it can help with early detection in children. Overall, the discussion is about how MRI can better the understanding, detection, and treatment of ASD.

Autism and the Use of MRI

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopment condition that has a wide variety of symptoms that can effect a patient’s social skills, speech or other ways of communication, and also can include different repetitive behaviors. One third of children with autism are nonverbal, and there are also many children that have gastrointestinal disorders, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) along with many other symptoms. The conditions of ASD are very diverse because every case can be so unique because of different genetic and environmental blends can effect an ASD patient’s conditions. Around 1 in 68 children are effected by autism, and boys are much more likely to have the disorder.

Diagnosing autism can become a process; usually, if a parent or physician is concerned of ASD being a possibility, they will do a general screening which is normally suggested to the parents of infants anyway. After the screening, if there is a strong possibility of the patient having autism, the doctor will do a complete evaluation to confirm the diagnosis of the patient (Autism Speaks, n.d.). According to Shen et al (2013), early detection is critical because the earlier ASD is diagnosed positive results are more likely to happen when treating impairments. Most of the time diagnosing and understanding autism is only done by observation or screening, but with radiology, doctors are now seeing the signs of autism with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which could lead to an earlier detection.

There are multiple types of MRI that can help with these studies. Structural MRI is used to understand the anatomy of the brain. The data received from structural MRI can explain shape, size, and white and gray matter within the brain. Structure can be very important when understanding function of the brain, and this is why structural MRI is so useful. The next form of MRI is used for mostly neural activity rather than anatomy.

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