In a study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers say that they have proven that it is possible to rewire the brain. The finding of this possible reset button could translate into a future treatment for autism with better outcomes.
It is still quite early in the process of this understanding and the results are restricted to the study’s test subjects, rats. However, the results of the study have shown that the brains of the rats have the ability to be rewired by way of intense auditory behavior training.
Test Rats Displayed Signs of Autism
The rats in the study were injected with a serotonin receptor stimulating drug which resulted in autistic-like behaviors to be induced in the young rats. Much like a child with autism prefers to play alone, the test rats would not play with one another. The test rats also displayed nervous behavior. When it was attempted to excite the rats with noise, the rats would freeze, which is not typical behavior for a rat, but typical for a child with autism.
The rats that displayed the autistic-like characteristics were subjected to a certain type of clicks and tones that in other experiments proved to drive plasticity, the process whereby over time, the brain changes. The test rats heard these sounds at frequencies that were distorted so they were not having typical responses. As it turns out, kids with autism can have the same type of problem, as if their hearing is completely muffled.
Training Impacted Autism Hearing Distortions
These rats whose brains were altered by the anti-depressant drug were trained in a strongly behaviorally engaging hearing exercise. With the training, their ability to distinguish the fine differences between the sounds that they heard was progressively sharpened. The results of the training had a major impact on all of the autism-like neurological distortions in their brains.
Males Were Affected
The results of the training were prevalent only in the male test rats. There are about four times more boys than girls diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders in the general population. The sex differences are not yet understood.
Training Would Be More Intense In Humans
The behavioral training of the test rats took about two months and occurred every day for many hours, which, in a human child’s life, would be equivalent to about 2 years. The researchers stated that a future strategy for kids diagnosed with autism might be to find a supportive system that enforces these lessons with the kids, but that they would need to be intense interventions. While the study does imply there are implications for treatment of autism, the researchers warn that this could be in the future.
Creating Brighter Futures Offers One-On-One Treatment
While the results of this study offer hope, it is important to keep in mind that this is early research and there is much human testing that needs to be done.
At Creating Brighter Futures, your child is more relaxed and receptive through our one-on-one ABA Treatment for Autism, fun group therapy, and ongoing family support. Call CBF today at 734-926-0740 to learn about our treatment center and how our experienced staff can guide and support not only your child but family as well.