Article Courtesy of ABC News
By JOHN DONVAN and CAREN ZUCKER
Scientists have long known that people with autism have brains that work differently — their brain activity doesn’t follow the usual pathways for speech, thought or social interaction. Still, the lingering question has always been: why?
New research published in the online medical journal Nature today offers the best evidence yet that a major part of the answer is genetics.
For the first time, scientists have identified specific genetic mutations that lead to specific abnormalities in how brain cells communicate and carry messages in the brains of those with autism.
“The genes that were discovered appear to be involved in the development of the frontal lobe of the brain … that is, involved in complex behavior such as social behavior and also abstract thought,” said Dr. Geri Dawson, chief officer of Autism Speaks and co-author of the study. “So it helps us understand why people with autism have difficulty in the area of social interaction — and also why they have a tendency to be so concrete and literal in their interpretation.”