Biological psychologist tells MedPage Today more investigation of brain disruption in children with autism is needed

Mar 27, 2014
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UMMS Biological psychologist Curtis Deutsch talks about NEJM autism study

UMMS Biological psychologist Curtis Deutsch talks about NEJM autism study

UMass Medical School biological psychologist Curtis K Deutsch, PhD, told MedPage Today further investigation is needed to analyze the extent and statistical properties of brain disruption in children with autism described in a study by the University of California San Diego published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, though compelling, was limited because of its approach, said Deutsch, director of the Psychobiology Program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

“The authors used an exploratory design, one that employed sparse sampling of tissue across a wide area of whole brain. In other words, they cast a wide net in search of neuroanatomic abnormalities, and they found an abundance of neuropathologic ‘patches,’ ” Deutsch said.

"It will be of interest in the future to perform [higher resolution] analyses to investigate the extent and distribution of these pathologic features, and to study their statistical properties."

Deutsch specializes in neuropsychiatric illness and developmental disorders. His program focuses its primary research on the design of quantitative phenotypes based on the principles of developmental neurobiology, which are then related to specific molecular genetic markers.

With the support of the National Institutes of Health, Deutsch has developed software for quantitative assessment of neurocognitive function and for objective clinical genetic phenotypes. He sits on the steering committee of the Autism Speaks' Autism Genetics Resource Exchange.

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