Romina Madrid, post-doctoral associate at CAREI, presented as part of a symposium on Place, identity and belonging in a changing world: Exploring contemporary issues for policy, practice and leadership.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants with older siblings with autism, researchers from around the country, including the University of Minnesota (UMN), were able to predict which infants would later meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at two years of age, with 80 percent accuracy.
“The findings lay the foundation for the field to move toward attempting to implement interventions before the symptoms that define autism consolidate into a diagnosis,” said study co-author Jed Elison, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UMN Institute of Child Development.
“Typically, the earliest an autism diagnosis can be made is between ages two and three. But for babies with older autistic siblings, our imaging approach may help predict during the first year of life which babies are most likely to receive an autism diagnosis at 24 months,” said senior author Joseph Piven, M.D., the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
This research project included hundreds of children from across the country and was led by researchers at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The project’s other clinical sites included the University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, other key collaborators are McGill University, the University of Alberta, the College of Charleston, and New York University (see ibisnetwork.org for more information.)
For this study, published today in Nature, the team of researchers conducted MRI scans of infants at six, 12 and 24 months of age. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion of brain surface area from six to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of the condition at 24 months of age. Increased growth rate of surface area in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of overall brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.
The researchers then took these data – MRIs of brain volume, surface area, cortical thickness at 6 and 12 months of age, and sex of the infants – and used a computer program to identify a way to classify babies most likely to meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age. The computer program developed the best algorithm to accomplish this, and the researchers applied the algorithm to a separate set of study participants.
The researchers found that brain differences at 6 and 12 months of age in infants with older siblings with autism correctly predicted eight out of 10 infants who would later meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age in comparison to those infants with older ASD siblings who did not meet criteria for autism at 24 months.
According to the researchers, the findings may have implications for early detection and intervention in children who have older siblings with autism before a diagnosis is typically established. Diagnosis of ASD typically occurs after 24 months of age, the earliest time when behavioral characteristics of ASD can be observed. Intervening early could lead to improved outcomes, as the brain is more malleable in the first years of life compared with later in childhood.
“This area of research is incredibly exciting because it provides an opportunity to understand how autism unfolds early in life,” said Jason Wolff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in educational psychology at UMN and a study co-author. “It provides new clues about the timing and specific mechanisms of brain development that precede a diagnosis. It also offers the unprecedented possibility of predicting whether or not a child will develop autism based on neurobiological data.”
“These findings not only are significant for the field of autism, but they also could inform the broader field of psychiatry and prevention science as it relates to various psychiatric conditions,” Elison said. “This research highlights the best of contemporary science. It’s collaborative, and informed by technology and multiple areas of expertise, with the common goal of helping families.”
The National Institutes of Health funded this study.
The piece discussed empirical evidence around the issues of race, poverty, intergenerational mobility, and the opportunity and achievement gaps. For a 2015 study, Roisman and colleagues examined “racially disparate conditions,” such as family income, maternal education, and learning materials in the home, as well as child birth order and child birth weight. They found that such conditions “can account for the relation between race and cognitive test scores.”
In his talk, “Does theorizing about Developmental Coordination Disorder inform diagnosis and intervention?”, Dr. Wade will comment on the empirical data and conclusions as to the possible cause of developmental coordination disorder. He argues that the data for an information theory explanation is not compelling, and a reconsideration of developmental coordination disorder from a dynamical systems perspective is perhaps more promising.
Graduate assistant Chris Moore, advised byYuhei Inoue, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sport Management in the School of Kinesiology presented research results to study participants at the Minnetonka Senior Services.
This research study titled “The Influence of Sport Team Identification on Mental Health for Older Adults” was funded by Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant. For this study, Moore and Inoue worked with Minnetonka Senior Services to recruit older adults and coordinated trips to three home games of University of Minnesota Women’s volleyball team. The purpose of the project was to examine if attending sporting events and establishing a sense of connections with the sport team and its fans may help enhance older adults’ social relationships and well-being.
While peer-reviewed, the article was invited as part of a special issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, by James J. Gibson, one of the foundational statements of the Ecological Approach to Perception and Action.
Dr. Mantel is on the faculty at the University of Caen, while Dr. Bardy is on the faculty at the University of Montpellier, both in France.
Faustina Cuevas, senior academic adviser in CEHD Student Services, was awarded the EMERGE Villages Catalyst Award. EMERGE is a Twin Cities community development agency that works to help people access jobs, financial coaching, supportive housing, and other key services. This award recognizes Cuevas for her time investment and contributions as a mentor to formerly homeless families, an ability to work with families to support stabilization and overcoming barriers, and whose positive effort supports the infrastructure in Emerge Villages.
Yuhei Inoue, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sport Management in the School of Kinesiology together with his partners from Temple University and the University of Tsukuba in Japan are featured in The Japan Times, Japan’s largest English-language newspaper.
The article discusses the project to reform Japanese college sports by establishing an athletic department that is modeled after US intercollegiate athletic departments. In the next two years, Dr. Inoue and his partners will study the first implementation of this structure at the University of Tsukuba.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, recently published a paper in Computers in Human Behavior. The first author, Jung Eun Lee, is Dr. Gao’s Ph.D. student and currently an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The paper examined the acute effect of playing a single bout of active video games on children’s mood change and whether mood change differed by gender and age group. The researchers found that a short bout of active video games significantly reduced anger, depression and vigor, and fourth grade children had greater vigor than the third graders.
AchieveMPLS is a non-profit partner of Minneapolis Public Schools that focuses on career and college readiness for students in Minneapolis. Their EDTalks aim to call attention to a wide range of issues impacting public education.
During her EDTalk, Gunnar emphasized the importance of fostering healthy child development and discussed ways to ensure that children grow and live in healthy environments.
“If we work together, we can think of a comprehensive set of plans across the community to work on over the years to create the kind of context we want for our communities, for the families and children there, so that we will all have a bright future,” Gunnar said.