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Brain Mapping

Brain Mapping

Science Behind Brain Mapping

The brain is a network formed by a connecting framework, somewhat like inter-linking service lines in a train subway system, which consists of the components that make up the nervous system: neurons, circuits, columns, functional regions, and neural systems. The reaction of an individual to the environment is made possible by these connections. These connections support the ability to perceive, or not, the world around and response accordingly in adaptive behaviors. At multiple levels of organization, important refinements in brain connectivity continue to mature from infancy, toddler-hood, adolescence, and adulthood until a fully functional possibly cognitive capacity is built.

Abnormal anatomical connectivity and functioning of certain brain regions has been suggested to relate to behavioral and cognitive impairment in several neurological disorders. For example, developmental studies by Shi and investigators (2013) have reported altered connectivity of in areas of the brain involved in emotions, language, and higher perception in children with ASD.

The interconnected regions in the brain can be studied mathematically to calculate strength of connections to provide information on how the integration of information proceeds in an individual and where there is inefficient neuronal signaling and communication in the brain. The calculation is called “network analysis tools”. When applied to a data-driven computational framework for detecting brain network connections, it is possible to obtain insight into an individual’s development across time, their roles in brain disorders such as ASD, and most importantly to answer the question of whether gains in behavior follow improvement in brain wiring.

EEG Brain Map Topography

EEG stands for electroencephalography. The brain normally produces tiny electrical signals that come from the brain cells and nerves that send messages to each other. These electrical signals can be detected and recorded by the EEG machine. The EEG test is painless and harmless. (The EEG machine records electrical signals coming from your brain – it does not put any electricity into your brain or body.) When you have the test, the operator will attach several small patches (electrodes) to your scalp. Wires from the electrodes are connected to the EEG machine. The machine detects and amplifies the electrical signals and records them onto a paper or computer.

EEG recordings are obtained through tracking the electrical activity in the brain.  The alteration between the brain’s input that caused excitation versus inhibition are compared; it is these disturbances that are prevalent in ASD.  The EEG profiles and its specific brain wave oscillation have been found to be abnormal in ASD patients.

The state-of-the art EEG machine simultaneously records a great number of digitized channels: EEG brain map topography. In this technique, a large number of electrodes are placed onto the head, following a geometrical array of evenly-spaced points. This approach gives a more accurate view than traditional EEG. The EEG topography gives representative view of the location of alterations of rhythm, amplitude and types of brain wave hence pinpointing the exact location of EEG alterations in ASD.

Several sequential pictures are taken from the brain and make up an individual’s brain map and at the same time allow the dynamic study of brain function. This method gives a picture of brain map and brain function of the child, otherwise not available. We are unique in that we target individual needs based on the underlying cause, of behavior dysfunction associated with ASD, from the brain.

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The left panel shows a brain map profile of a normal child compared to the right panel of a child with moderate to severe ASD.  Note that green represents normal range whereas red and yellow depicts over-activity.

An excess of brain connectivity can be reflected as over-activity in the qEEG. This is confirmed by an example from a qEEG brain map showing an increase in activity (red) and increase in of circuit connections (seen as greater number of lines in the circle) in a child with ASD compared to a typically developing child with normal activity (green) and less density of circuit connections (less lines in the circle).

Does Behavior Intervention Have an Effect on The Brain Map?

The diagrams above show the brain map before and after our unique therapy. After six months of behavior intervention, a child with ASD has demonstrated gains in social and language functioning. Accordingly, the brain map demonstrated an improvement in the over-activity (from red towards green) and a reduction in aberrant circuits (less lines in the circle).

Importantly, future progress in the treatment of ASD will depend on close dialog between the empirical studies of behavior intervention and the research findings from the neuroscience of Autism network studies. As these developments unfold, it seems certain that the collaboration between the two fields (behavior studies and neuroscience of Autism) will remain an enduring theme in the quest to better understand the complex function of the brain impacted by ASD and to advance the treatment of ASD.

Jane Yip

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