Research including Andy Alexander, shows autism MRI test may detect disorder quicker in high-functioning patients

Andrew Alexander
Andrew Alexander, PhD

Scientists using diffusion tensor imaging have been able to identify individuals with autism 94% of the time, according to a study published in the December 2 online edition of Autism Research. The study group included sixty males ages 7 to 28 years, half of whom were diagnosed with autism. Researchers used MRI scans to study areas of the brain that play a central role in language, emotion and social cognition.

Waisman Center researcher Andrew Alexander, PhD, is a coauthor of the study. According to Alexander, the research is part of an ongoing collaborative study with University of Utah and Harvard Medical School. Alexander and his team developed methods using diffusion tensor imaging to map out the organization of white matter connections within the brain. Their imaging studies suggest that white matter and brain connectivity in autism are abnormal. Alexander is the Director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics Research at the Waisman Center’s Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and an Associate Professor of Medical Physics & Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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