Synaptic link seen in origin of autism
New research shows that autistic children have excess synapses, the connections between neurons, which do not decline with age.
People without autism also begin life with a higher rate of synaptic creation, but it is trimmed and honed with maturity into the neural circuits that make up the adult brain.
As a child develops, their excess synapses undergo the process of ‘autophagy’; the consumption of unnecessary cells.
Synapses form in the cortex region of the brain as well, which is where autistic behaviours appear to originate during early brain development.
Researchers say their findings suggest if synapses are not pruned, autism can occur.
There are drugs already which work to increase the autophagy process, and new research are now being designed to find out whether these may in fact be useful for the treatment of autism.
The research team behind the latest discovery discusses its findings in the following video.