It’s often said that “the eyes tell everything,” but regardless of their outward expression, the eyes may also signal neurodevelopmental disorders like 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 signals 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 – researchers found that children with ADHD had higher total ERG energy, while children with ASD had lower ERG had energy.
dr Paul Constable, a research optician at Flinders University, says the preliminary results point to promising results for improved diagnosis and treatment in the future.
“ASD and ADHD are the most frequently diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. However, because they often share similar characteristics, diagnosing the two conditions can be lengthy and complicated,” says Dr. constable
“Our research aims to improve this. By studying how retinal signals respond to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for various neurodevelopmental states.
“Retinal signals have specific nerves that generate them, so if we can identify those 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, ADHD and ASD and possibly other neurodevelopmental conditions. »
“This study provides preliminary evidence of neurophysiological changes that not only distinguish ADHD and ASD from normally developing children, but also evidence that they can be distinguished from one another based on ERG properties. »
According to the World Health Organization, one in 100 children has ASD, with 5-8% of children being diagnosed with ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by excessive activity, difficulty paying attention, and difficulty controlling impulsive behavior. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is also a neurodevelopmental disorder in which children behave, communicate, interact and learn differently than most other people.
Fellow researcher and expert in human and artificial cognition at the University of South Australia, Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos says the research has the potential to expand to other neurological conditions.
“Finally, we look at how the eyes can help us understand the brain,” says Dr. Marmolejo Ramos.
“While more research is needed to identify the retinal signaling abnormalities specific to this and other neurodevelopmental disorders, our observations to date indicate that we are on the verge of something amazing.
“It’s really about looking at that space; In this case, the eyes could reveal everything. »
This research was conducted in collaboration with McGill University, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
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Materials provided by University of South Australia. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.
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