By Richard Alleyne
Wednesday August 11, 2010
Screening for autism in adults and children could take just quarter of an hour and cost as little as €110 after British scientists developed a brain scan for the condition.
Researchers at King’s College London have designed a computer programme that can analyse the shape of brains and say with 90pc accuracy whether they suffer from autism.
The breakthrough could mean that children will be diagnosed much earlier allowing for more effective and intensive treatment for the condition.
It could also help diagnose hundreds of thousands of adults known as high functioning autistic who presently do not even know they suffer from the condition.
Dr Christine Ecker, at the university’s Institute of Psychiatry, said: “The value of this rapid and accurate tool to diagnose ASD is immense.
“It could help to alleviate the need for the emotional, time consuming and expensive diagnosis process which ASD patients and families currently have to endure. We now look forward to testing if our methods can also help children.”
The scientists funded by the Medical Research Council used an MRI scanner to take pictures of the brain of a number of autism sufferers and non-sufferers.
A separate imaging technique was then used to reconstruct these scans into 3D images so that a computer could look at the structure, shape and thickness of the various parts of the brain.
The group of autism sufferers and non-sufferers 3D images were compared and the computer worked out the differences that corresponded with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).