Sunday, June 27, 2010

Towards a biological understanding of behavioural problems

Current ASD diagnostic approaches and intervention options are behavioral in nature, therefore, why is an understanding of ASD at the biological level relevant? This review, published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, discusses some of the biological disruptions behind the behavioural symptoms of ASD. One of the core components behind the biology is the dopamine neural pathway. Dopamine is a chemical and sometimes hormone, in the nervous system that performs a number of tasks. It is often referred to as the reward hormone because of its involvement in rewarding and reinforcing behaviours. Other chemicals in the brain are discussed here also. Understanding the biology helps us to design drugs that can assist with current behavioural treatments, resulting in quicker learning and a decreased reliance on specialised services. With earlier diagnosis, earlier drug treatment can assist the body's own learning processes, before specialised training can commence. With many causes of ASD, treatments are unlikely to be terribly effective which address the cause. Effective treatments are likely to be those that address the affected biology.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Do different genetic mutations result in different ASD severities?

While it is known that genetic mutations can contribute to the status of our health, which is certainly the case in some individuals with ASD, what is not known is whether different types of mutations result in different degrees of severity. Researchers have recently asked this question, using an ASD susceptibility point in our DNA make-up. They found that the clinical variability of ASDs may be reduced or categorised when subgroups based on a specific mutations are distinguished from the ASD population. What this means is that the spectrum of autism can be categorised by mutations to form subgroups of autism. In future, ASDs are likely to be subgrouped by genetics and symptoms.
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