The study, a meta-analysis which aggregated data from previous studies, looked at fMRI scans, that is MRIs conducted while the subject is completing a task, of children and adults diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
The researchers found that changes and irregularities in brain activity associated with autism that occur in childhood does not remain stagnant. Instead, they found that brain activity continues to develop across the lifespan, noting differences when comparing children with adults.
Most notably, there was significantly less activity in the sections of the brain associated with social skills such as eye contact, a key deficit in those with autism, in children versus adults. This was also true in sections of the brain associated with memory, among other functions, as well.
It was unclear based on the study's results what sort of treatment, if any, each subject received. However, the results of this meta-analysis imply that irregular brain activity characteristic of autism spectrum disorders can be affected and altered with treatment, such as through therapy, whether behavioral or otherwise, or even medication. By identifying which parts of the brain are affected by autism across the lifespan, treatments can be tailored to better target skills and functions associated with those areas of the brain.
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