Avoidance of eye contact has long been a primary marker for autism, and studies have indicated that a region of the brain associated with face recognition tends to be underdeveloped. But new research indicates that the region is underdeveloped because it doesn't get the sort of exercise that a typical development pattern would give it.
In autistic children, an overactive amygdala causes them to perceive all faces as somewhat threatening, leading them to want to look away. The March issue of National Geographic is out, and research cited in its leading article on the mind indicates that even in adults, brain regions can shrink or grow their active connections within weeks of uncharacteristic use or disuse. Persistent disuse of the region responsible for face recognition seems to cause it to atrophy, but the lack of a fundamental problem with this area is a great source of hope for future therapy for autistics of all ages.Posted by natasha at March 7, 2005 09:34 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |