Cardiff University uses imaging to study sensory problems in autism

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Elekta's Neuromag is a magnetoencephalography (MEG) device. Image Source: Elekta

Researchers at Cardiff University in England are using the latest brain imaging techniques to examine the way the brain reacts differently to the sense of touch in people with autism.

David McGonigle, PhD, RCUK Fellow in Cardiff University's Brain Research Imaging Centre will lead the two-year study, funded by the Waterloo Foundation in collaboration with the Wales Autism Research Centre led by Professor Sue Leekam, PhD, chair in Autism Research at Cardiff University.

McGonigle said that around 80 percent of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from some aspect of sensory dysfunction.

McGonigle will use magnetoencephalography to record the activity of the brain; magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure the concentration of neurotransmitters and diffusion MRI to provide information on how the different parts of the brain connect to one another, according to Cardiff University.

"By doing this we hope to be able to better explain sensory symptoms in autism. Ultimately, we hope this research will help us form a model of the kinds of sensory dysfunction of people with ASD and respond with better forms of treatment," said McGonigle.