Do you resemble your child in certain ways?

Do you have a tendency not to prefer interactions with others, not to enjoy ‘small talk’ for the sake of the social experience, and to have few close friendships involving sharing and mutual support? Do you ever wonder if autism is genetically linked?
A recent research by neuroscientist in Califonia find that some parents of children with autism evaluate facial expressions differently than the rest of us–and in a way that is strikingly similar to autistic children. The parents participated in an experiment that measured how they make use of the face to judge emotions. The subjects were shown images depicting facial expressions of emotion that were digitally filtered so that only certain regions of the face were discernible–the left eye, for example, or the mouth. The subjects were then asked to decide as quickly as possible if the emotion depicted was “happy” or “fear.” The part of the face shown, and the size of the revealed area, randomly varied from trial to trial.
The research revealed that more parents with autictic children relied much more heavily on the mouth to recognize emotion than they did on the eyes, as compared to a group of parents of children without autism. Prior studies have shown that humans normally evaluate emotions by looking at the eyes–but later studies have shown that individuals with autism do not. The research found that some parents who have a child with autism process face information in a subtly, but clearly different way from other parents.
This is evidence for the hypothesis that the parents with the autistic child have brains that function somewhat differently as well–an idea that he and other researchers are currently investigating through brain imaging studies. One area of interest is the amygdala, a region located on either side of the brain in the medial temporal lobe that is known to process information about facial emotions and may have abnormal volume in both autistic individuals and their nonautistic siblings. The finding indicates that certain aspects of autism do run in families. Although such a genetic link was noted in the 1940s in the earliest descriptions of autism, this reseach adds considerable specific detail to the theory.
The reseachers are not claiming all people with autism, or their parents, are ‘impaired.’ Instead, shows that parents who have children with autism–like the autistic subjects themselves–are different, and do things differently.”
What the reseach really highlights is that the data strongly suggest that genetic factors make a substantial contribution to autism, but that does not mean that the entire cause of autism is genetic. The next time, you start evaluate facial expression, think “Do my child also evaluate the same way”.

 

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