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Dachel Media Update: The Brain Game

Online newsBy Anne Dachel OurKids ad 2013

Read Anne's commentary and view the links after the jump.  The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and their OurKidsASD brand. 

Here's the latest autism study just out on major news sites.  It involves overproduction of synapses in the brain.

Okay, What's a synapse and how does a kid with autism get too many of them?  How does this explain an epidemic of ASD among our children?  How does it explain sudden regressive autism in toddlers accompanied by bowel disease?

This kind of research announcement is routine in the scientific world because it fosters a number of things officials want us to believe:

Autism is a mysterious disorder that scientists are diligently trying to figure out.

No one is alarmed about autism, just curious.

There is no urgency.

Notice the finding only "provides clues" and "the research may shed light on the roots of autism." 

My favorite headline was Newsday's: Autism may be brain disorder.  Seriously?

New York Times: Study Finds That Brains With Autism Fail to Trim Synapses as They Develop

Now a new study suggests that in children with autism, something in the process goes awry, leaving an oversupply of synapses in at least some parts of the brain.

The finding provides clues to how autism develops from childhood on, and may help explain some symptoms like oversensitivity to noise or social experiences, as well as why many people with autism also have epileptic seizures....

The findings are the latest in an area of autism research that is drawing increasing interest. For years, scientists have debated whether autism is a problem of brains with too little connectivity or too much, or some combination.

UK Daily Mail: Scientists discover people with autism have too many brain 'connections'

'What's remarkable about the findings is that hundreds of genes have been linked to autism, but almost all of our human subjects had overactive mTOR and decreased autophagy, and all appear to have a lack of normal synaptic pruning.'

Washington Post: Researchers reverse autism symptoms in mice by paring extra synapses

Although many things have gone wrong in the autistic brain, scientists recently have been focusing on one of the most glaring: a surplus of connections, or synapses....

It is not clear if too many synapses are the main reason for autism, but many genes linked to autism play a role in synapse pruning.

Newsday: Autism may be brain disorder, says children's study

Autism disorders are characterized by indifference to social engagement, communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors. There is no cure or single known cause, though studies have suggested a range of potential biological and environmental starting points.

Newsmax: Autism Linked to Too Many Brain Synapses

In new research that may shed light on the roots of autism, Columbia University Medical Center scientists have found children with the disorder have an oversupply of synapses in some parts of their brains, which may affect their ability to process information.

U.S. News & World Report: Kids With Autism Have Extra Brain Connections, Study Says

"This is an important finding that could lead to a novel and much-needed therapeutic strategy for autism," said Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, in a statement. He wasn't involved in the study.

Lee Silsby logo 09 The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and their OurKidsASD brand.  Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy is one of the largest and most respected compounding pharmacies in the country. They use only the finest quality chemicals and equipment to prepare our patients’ compounded medications and nutritional supplements. Customizing medication and nutritional supplements for our customers allows them to achieve their unique health goals.

Anne Dachel Book CoverAnne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of  The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which goes on sale this Fall from Skyhorse Publishing.






William B. Crumpler

I have read about and listened to descriptions of the role of the reticular activating system(RAS) in success literature and have often wondered if, this filter in the brain that only lets what is important and a threat come to our consciousness, has been altered in ASD children. Could this overproduction of synapses be a result of the RAS not doing it's job? I kind of makes sense to me. Does anyone know of any research in this area?


This is not a "new study." They published similar information about 4 years ago. Guess it makes the NYT feel good to be able to publish something so "promising", It would be nice if there were a useful study occasionally.

Eileen Nicole Simon

Autism is the result of impairment (if not damage) within the brain. The impairment has many causes: Prenatal rubella infection, prenatal exposure to valproic acid, birth injury, plus many genetic conditions like tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, PKU, and more. The authors of the article in Neuron chose one gene mutation as the focus of their research (mTOR signaling).

Years ago I chose asphyxia at birth as the focus of my dissertation research. Complications at birth continue to be reported more than any other of autism’s causes, especially those associated with premature birth. Respiratory distress is the most serious problem resulting from premature birth. Low Apgar scores and need for resuscitation are the most frequent problem for full-term infants who suffer a difficult birth. So, what does oxygen insufficiency do to the brain?

Nuclei in the auditory pathway are most prominently affected by a 6 to 8 minute lapse in respiration. Damage of the auditory system can lead to difficulty learning to speak (and speech is the basis of human communication and social interactions). The basal ganglia are also damaged by asphyxia at birth, which can lead to repetitive (choreo-athetoid) movements.

Abnormal maturation of the of the cerebral cortex was a primary result of experiments with monkeys on asphyxia at birth (Faro & Windle, Exp. Neurol. 1969; 24:38-53). Maturation of the language areas depends upon intact guidance by neurons in the brainstem auditory pathway to target circuits in the cerebral cortex. This (like mTOR signaling) is a postnatal process.

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