Is Autism the Result of TOO MANY Connections?

PLEASE SHARE

Normal Brain Development

Making Connections

During normal brain development, there is an explosive increase in the number of cells – neurons – formed. There is also an explosion in the number of connections between those neurons – synapses, formed by “dendritic spines” – during normal brain development.

Pruning Connections

At first, the connections seem random. It’s every neuron for themselves. It seems, the more, the better. But then, at some time during childhood, a pruning process begins. The connections become refined. Less-used connections are dropped in favor of more meaningful connections. The spines are pruned.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

There are recent hints that Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) due to the continuum of symptom severity, may be the result of too many connections: too many neuronal “spines.” That is, a lack of pruning.

The laboratory of Dr. Patricia Maness, of UNC School of Medicine, has discovered that one of the genes involved in the pruning process may be involved in ASD. “When it doesn’t prune, we get too many synapses,” said Dr. Maness.

There have been recent neuro-anatomic reports suggesting a correlation between too many neuronal spines and human ASD.

Whereas Dr. Maness emphasizes caution, “… this is by no means a cure for autism … this is a first step,” this discovery is promising.

Many Factors

Because ASD is multi-factorial, meaning there are many genes involved (at least 100), and because many potential environmental factors (pesticides and other toxins), her cautions are well founded.

On the other hand, any step toward better understanding this tragic disorder is welcome.

For some insight from a truly integrative physician, read Mark Hyman’s view on Autism (Dr. Hyman is founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine): http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/12/09/breakthrough-discovery-on-the-causes-of-autism/#openModal

Here is a great resource for those dealing with ASD:

autism products

______________________________________

Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog. That wonderful photo of me is by Chris Stranad; here is his site: http://www.chrisstranadphotography.com/Index.html

Russell Faust, PhD, MD boogordoctor / healthy children

Image: Dr. Faust and friend

Let me know what topics are important to you and your child’s respiratory health. Join the conversation by leaving a comment / reply below, or email me any time. Thanks for visiting, see you here later. In invite you to subscribe to this blog (it’s FREE). Be sure to type in your best email address (the one that you actually use).  You will then receive an email with a “confirmation link” – click on that link to get weekly updates from this blog in your email. It’s free, it’s convenient, it’s an easy way to stay up-to-date on information to keep you and your family healthy.  You can un-subscribe at any time. Stay informed. Stay healthy.

Speak Your Mind

*