It’s often said that “the eyes say it all,” but regardless of their outward expression, the eyes can also signal neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and ADHD, according to new research from Flinders University and the University of South Australia. .
In the first study of its kind, researchers found that retinal recordings could identify distinct cues for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), providing a potential biomarker for each requirement. .
Using the “electroretinogram” (ERG), a diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of the retina in response to a light stimulus, the researchers found that children with ADHD had higher overall ERG energy, while children with TEA had less ERG energy.
Flinders University research optometrist Dr. Paul Constable says the preliminary results indicate promising results for improving diagnoses and treatments in the future.
“ASD and ADHD are the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. But since they often share similar traits, diagnosing the two conditions can be long and complicated,” says Dr. Constable.
“Our research aims to improve this. By exploring how retinal signals respond to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions.
“Signals from the retina have specific nerves that generate them, so if we can identify these differences and map them to specific pathways that use different chemical signals that are also used in the brain, then we can show clear differences for affected children. potentially other neurodevelopmental conditions. »
“This study provides preliminary evidence of neurophysiological changes that not only differentiate ADHD and ASD from typically developing children, but also evidence that they can be distinguished from each other based on ERG characteristics. »
According to the World Health Organization, one in 100 children has ASD, with 5-8% of children diagnosed with ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by excessive activity, difficulty paying attention, and difficulty controlling impulsive behaviors. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is also a neurodevelopmental condition in which children behave, communicate, interact, and learn differently from most people.
University of South Australia co-investigator and human and artificial cognition expert Dr Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos says the research has the potential to extend to other neurological conditions.
“Ultimately, we’re looking at how the eyes can help us understand the brain,” says Dr. Marmolejo-Ramos.
“While more research is needed to establish retinal signaling abnormalities specific to these and other neurodevelopmental disorders, what we have observed so far shows that we are on the verge of something surprising.
“It’s really about looking at this space; in this case, the eyes could reveal everything. »
This research was carried out in collaboration with McGill University, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
Materials provided by University of South Australia. Note: content can be edited for style and length.
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