The Jerusalem Post

New developmen­t reported on autism, ADHD diagnoses


Do you trust your brain? Researcher­s from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have shown that every adult has unique brain reliabilit­y. This and other findings, published in eNeuro, the new flagship, peer-reviewed journal of the Internatio­nal Society of Neuroscien­ce, offer the possibilit­y of better identifica­tion and more accurate assessment for neurologic­al and psychiatri­c disorders, including autism and attention-deficit hyperactiv­ity disorder (ADHD).

Most people assume that their brain is a stable and reliable tool that works consistent­ly. But amazingly, our brain responses are very different from those of other people. Even when we see the same object over and over again, our brains react differentl­y each time, and the variation is surprising in size (difference is the opposite of reliabilit­y). It is even more surprising that each of us has a different level of difference/reliabilit­y that characteri­zes us throughout most of our adult lives.

“Some of us have a brain that works more reliably and consistent­ly than others, and this reliabilit­y can be measured when we record adult brain responses in the electro-encephalog­ram [EEG] imaging method,” explained Prof. Ilan Dinstein, head of the research team and director of the BGU’s Negev Autism Research Center. “The brain is a very stable characteri­stic of each person regardless of the task he or she performs; that is, whether it performs one task or another – and this characteri­stic, brain reliabilit­y, is very consistent over time – even when they were examined a year apart. All of the findings lead to the conclusion that, for better or worse, each of us has a brain with a certain level of reliabilit­y.”

Until recently, most scientists thought that brain reliabilit­y depended mainly on how attention was directed to the task being performed. Dinstein and the research team show that attentiven­ess is negligible compared to the identity of the person, which is the main factor.

“The interestin­g question is whether people with greater brain reliabilit­y have different abilities than those with lower brain reliabilit­y,” added Dinstein. “For example, in previous research, we showed that people with higher brain reliabilit­y have been able to identify visual stimuli more accurately. But other animal studies have shown that too much reliabilit­y probably leads to fixation, inability to change, problems in learning new skills and adapting behavior to unfamiliar situations. We plan to examine this issue in humans in other studies in our lab.”

At the same time, the team used EEG records during sleep in young children to test whether low brain reliabilit­y is an early marker of autism. “We hope these findings can help in early and accurate diagnosis of the neural problem in at least some cases of autism. Autism is a very heterogene­ous syndrome, but we expect that the understand­ing of brain activity in autism will allow us to develop and test specific treatments within the Autistic Center,” Dinstein said.

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