Chloe Paltrow, MD – Brain Blogger Health and Science Blog Covering Brain Topics Wed, 30 May 2018 15:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Autism May Affect Social Development of the Brain Sun, 20 Mar 2016 17:50:29 +0000 Experts at the University of California have published a research in Brain and Behavior, a journal, revealing how the brain’s “social area” is undeveloped in adolescents and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

As shown by the investigation, individuals with ASD have hyperperfusion, in which there is an increased blood flow going through the brain’s frontal cortex. This region of the brain is responsible for managing everything associated with social interaction. Hyperperfusion, in the condition of ASD, shows that as the brain’s development continues, there is an increase in blood flow, which affects the individual’s social capacities and delays the neurodevelopment related to socio-emotional cognition.

Accordiing to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), autism usually refers to two main symptoms: stereotyped, restricted or repetitive behavior patterns, and limited communication and social skills. ASD usually refers to a wide range of various disorders, like Rett’s Syndrome, Autistic Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Employing new methods to get new results

Researchers studied 22 adolescents and children developing normally and 17 prospects with high-functioning ASD. Classification of the groups was done by IQ scores, gender, and age (7-17 years).

The study disclosed how specialists employed MRI for tracking the arterial spin labeling perfusion. The process has been employed already for tracking and investigating other types of brain disorders like schizophrenia. In the technique, blood water labeled magnetically is used as tracer for measuring the blood flow.

Additionally, they also considered other properties for completing the study – the strength and organization of connections in intrinsic neural interactions. These properties are an important part of the brain’s functional organization and its accompanying energy demands. In the case of neuropsychiatric or neurocognitive disorders, these two important properties are often altered, stated senior author of the study, Dr. J.J. Wang, associate professor of neurology.

A significant difference was shown by the results within the two groups. Among kids with ASD, a pattern of increased hyperfusion was seen – a consequence of the build-up of oxygen metabolism in the frontal brain regions. This showed that there was an overabundance of nerve cells in these kids and the social-emotional abilities of these children were more underdeveloped as compared to the group without ASD.

Moreover, Dr. Jann, postdoctoral researcher at UCLA’s Department of Neurology explained that connectivity loss means that information can’t flow properly between the brain’s distant regions. He added that the brain’s architecture follows a wiring pattern which is cost effective. With this pattern, the functionality is maximum with minimum energy consumption. However, this was not what was found in the ASD participants.


Ure, A., Treyvaud, K., Thompson, D., Pascoe, L., Roberts, G., Lee, K., Seal, M., Northam, E., Cheong, J., Hunt, R., Inder, T., Doyle, L., & Anderson, P. (2015). Neonatal brain abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder in children born very preterm Autism Research DOI: 10.1002/aur.1558

Image via solarseven / Shutterstock.

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Study Shows Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy May Help in Brain Injury Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:00:05 +0000 According to a new study, people suffering from brain injury after stroke may benefit from HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy). This therapy is given to scuba divers when suffering from “the bends”.

This therapy is a new method for the treatment of brain damage that may help patients who suffer from brain injury after stroke or any other kind of trauma.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel, employed HBOT in 74 patients who had suffered stroke, and whose conditions didn’t show improvement any longer for six months to three years after the stroke. HBOT is carried out inside an oxygen chamber in which the pressure is very high. The therapy heightens the level of oxygen in the body about tenfold. Shai Efrati, MD at Tel Aviv University, led the study. It was hypothesized by the researchers that such increased levels of oxygen may revive the inactive nerve cells in the post-stroke patients’ brains.

The therapy seemed to help. After conducting hyperbaric oxygen therapy for two months, increased activity was seen in the brain images in case of the treatment group in comparison with the non-treatment, control group. Visible improvements were also shown by the patients, like renewed use of language, enhanced sensation, and paralysis reversal.

The findings of the study were published in PLOS ONE. The findings indicate that HBOT is a viable option for treatment of post-stroke patients, even for patients in case of whom it may appear that it’s too late for any additional treatment. No participants were included in the study in case of whom three years had passed after the stroke, however, researchers believe that similar results would be seen for patients in case of whom stroke had taken place far earlier.

The study findings pose a challenge for the prominent paradigm, as they show that it is possible to activate neuroplasticity for years and months post severe brain injury, hence showing that the brain’s various aspects remain plastic in adulthood, stated Eshel Ben-Jacob, Tel Aviv University’s professor, one of the people working in the study. He said this in one of the university’s releases.

Hyperbaric therapy seems to help in restoring brain activity by offering a significant energy boost to the brain cells. The brain obviously receives oxygen through normal breathing, however, that oxygen is not sufficient for repairing brain damage. HBOT offers about 10 times the normal oxygen amount, which enables the brain cells move to high-gear, as said by Dr. Efrati. This rebuilds the brain connections and stimulates the inactive neurons.

Currently, Efrati and team are testing HBOT on patients affected by traumatic brain injury. The therapy might also prove to be beneficial in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at the early-stage. Moreover, a study done in 2012 discovered that HBOT is helpful in slowing type 1 diabetes progression in mice.

Efrati outlined in the release of Tel Aviv University: “It is now understood that many brain disorders are related to inefficient energy supply to the brain,”. “[Hyperbaric oxygen therapy] could right such metabolic abnormalities before the onset of full dementia, where there is still potential for recovery.”


Efrati, S., Fishlev, G., Bechor, Y., Volkov, O., Bergan, J., Kliakhandler, K., Kamiager, I., Gal, N., Friedman, M., Ben-Jacob, E., & Golan, H. (2013). Hyperbaric Oxygen Induces Late Neuroplasticity in Post Stroke Patients – Randomized, Prospective Trial PLoS ONE, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053716

Image via pedalist / Shutterstock.

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