The operative question is: Can you un-learn how to ride a bike?
Yesterday's news reported by the Wall Street Journal announced a new study that offers a prospective treatment for autism that can reverse symptoms. This notion could possible revolutionize the effects of autism and how individuals behave.
According to Swiss drug maker, Roche Holding “Changes in the brain caused by autism can be reversed in mice, a new preclinical study showed, opening a potential path to develop a treatment for the incurable disorder.” Furthermore, the study "identified a way to reverse a dysfunction in the brain's wiring typically caused by the disorder, which stumps intellectual development and can cause aggressive and anti-social behavior, and becomes evident in early childhood."
While skeptics question the actual diagnoses of autism in mice, it is a promising debate. Consider Pavlov’s experiment, where he simply rang a bell. He presented a dog with food, while ringing a bell and the dog salivated; subsequently every time the dog heard a bell it would salivate. Eliciting a conditioned response is not a new concept in treating abhorrent behaviors, however, eliminating the behaviors entirely is revolutionary.
Un-learning might be a difficult experiment. However, if the brain remains plastic into adulthood and that certain receptors can be re- configured, and that a drug can be developed to intervene, and if severe behaviors can be eliminated, prayers for thousands of families may come true.
There are lots of “ifs” in this arena; yet somehow a necessary by-product for scientific research. The announcement is accompanied by a caveat, in that there is no assurance that what is fit for mice, can work for humans and that ultimately the treatment would have to be very specific for each individual as to not interfere with normal developmental progression.