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Archive - Aug 18, 2019

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Non-Invasive Brain Imaging During Visual Test Identifies Autism with 87% Accuracy & Correctly Indicates Clinically Determined Severity; New Test Has Potential for Early Diagnostic Screening

A Dartmouth-led research team has identified a non-verbal, neural marker of autism. This marker shows that individuals with autism are slower to dampen neural activity in response to visual signals in the brain. This first-of-its kind marker was found to be independent of intelligence and offers an objective way to potentially diagnose autism in the future. The results were published online on August 15, 2019 in Current Biology. The open-access article is titled “Slower Binocular Rivalry in the Autistic Brain.” "Autism is hard to screen for in children, when the first signs are present. A trained clinician may be able to detect autism at 18-months or even younger; yet, the average age of a diagnosis of autism in the US is about four years old," explains lead author Caroline Robertson, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth, and Director of the Dartmouth Autism Research Initiative (https://sites.dartmouth.edu/autismresearchcenter/). "We need objective, non-invasive screening tools that don't depend on assessing a child's behavior. One of the big goals of the field is to develop objective neural markers of autism that can work with non-verbal individuals. This neural marker is just that," she added. People with autism have long been thought to have differences in inhibiting the neural signals in the brain. This is thought to underpin symptoms in autism, such as hypersensitivity to sensory input, which includes differences in processing visual information. When the human brain is presented with two different images at the same time, the images rock back and forth in awareness, toggling between the left and right eye. Prior research led by Dr.