Latest News » Study: Autistic brains contain more synapses

A new study found that children and adolescents with autism have more synapses.

A new study found that children and adolescents with autism have more synapses.

A new study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York has shed light on how childhood development relates to the development of autism. Researchers found that children with autism have extra synapses. Neuroscientists discovered that when compared to the brains of typical children, those with the condition have more cellular connections in their brains, according to an article from HealthDay News

The researchers measured the density of synapses in the brains of 26 children and adolescents that had passed away from conditions unrelated to autism. A typical 19 year-old would have 41 percent fewer synapses than a toddler. However, according to the New York Times, researchers found that the brains of teenagers with autism only had 16 percent fewer synapses. 

During development, the brain goes through a "pruning" process, and the researchers believe that for autistic children, this process slows down and results in excess synapses. These extra synaptic connections are also believed to possibly be treatable through the use of drugs that could reduce their numbers. 

"It's the first time that anyone has looked for, and seen, a lack of pruning during development of children with autism, although lower numbers of synapses in some brain areas have been detected in brains from older patients and in mice with autistic-like behaviors," said David Sulzer, senior investigator of the study and professor of neurobiology, in a news release.

It is believed that these excess synapses could account for certain symptoms related to autism, such as oversensitivity. This research sheds more light on the issue but as of now a suitable treatment has yet to be developed. 

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