Researchers rely on 3-D imaging to detect autism early

August 19th, 2008 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 19 (IANS) Researchers are examining 3-D imaging to reveal correlations in facial features and brain structures of autistic children, in a bid to develop a formula for the condition’s earlier detection. Autism is a brain disorder characterised by a complex of social, communication and behavioural difficulties.

“We are developing a quantitative method that will accurately measure these differences and allow for earlier, more precise detection of specific types of the disorder,” said Ye Duan, assistant computer science professor at the Missouri University (MU) College of Engineering.

“Once we have created a formula, we can pre-screen children by performing a quick, non-invasive scan of each child’s face and brain to check for abnormalities. Early detection is crucial in treating children and preparing families.”

“Instead of looking at brain structures slice-by-slice in an MRI (magnetic resonance image), we developed tools to create 3-D representations of the structures in order to visualise and make comparisons,” said Kevin Karsch, a research assistant in Duan’s computer graphics lab, MU senior and Goldwater Scholar.

“Using the 3-D representations, we are comparing the brain structures of autistic children to those of non-autistic children; no one has ever done that,” he added.

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