Following the report of the results of a new research study, scientists are looking at the possibility of treating children with autism with neuromodulation to help correct social deficits.
New research from the O'Donnell Brain Institute has demonstrated that a specific part of the cerebellum that has been believed to contribute coordinating movement is actually important for social behaviors in people with autism. This groundbreaking research not only establishes a more accessible target for brain stimulation but it also can help correct social impairments, one of the major areas of difficulties for those with autism.
While some say this treatment would only be effective with those treated at the very earliest ages, the researchers don’t agree. Using a mouse model, they conducted additional research which seemed to indicate that neuromodulation restored social behaviors even in adult mice. This result suggests individuals with autism still might benefit from brain stimulation intervention even if treatment is not provided until later in life.
Dr. Peter Tsai, the director of the research study, said, "This is potentially quite a powerful finding, From a therapeutic standpoint, this part of the cerebellum is an enticing target. And although neuromodulation would not cure the underlying genetic cause of a person's autism, improving social deficits in children with autism could make a huge impact on their quality of life."
Stoodley, C. J., D’Mello, A. M., Ellegood, J., Jakkamsetti, V., Liu, P., Nebel, M. B., Gibson,J. M., Kelly, E., Meng, F.. Cano, C. A., Pascual, J. M., Mostofsky, S. H.. Lerch, J. P. & Tsai, P. T., (2017). Altered cerebellar connectivity in autism and cerebellar-mediated rescue of autism-related behaviors in mice. Nature Neuroscience, 20 (12): 1744.