According to a new study finding, children with Asperger’s syndrome show patterns of brain connectivity distinct from those of children with autism.

Researchers of this study used EEG recording to measure the amount of signaling that occurred between different brain areas in children. The participants of this study were: 26 children with Asperger’s syndrome, 400 children with autism, and 550 typically-developing children.

Results of the first test demonstrated no differences between those children with Asperger’s and those with autism. Both disorders showed weaker connections, compared with typically-developing children, in the brain’s left hemisphere region called the arcuate fasciculus, which is responsible for language (it is the bundle of axons connecting the Wernicke’s area to the Broca’s area).  Once they investigated other parts of the brain, researchers did find differences. Results of these tests concluded that several regions in the left hemisphere were stronger in children with Asperger’s than in both children with autism and typically-developing children. “People with Asperger’s syndrome experience difficulties with social interaction, and can display unusual behaviors, such as repeating the same behavior or being excessively attached to performing certain routines. These symptoms overlap with those of autism disorder; however, children with Asperger’s tend to show language and cognitive development that is closer to that of typically-developing children, compared with children with autism.”

Therefore, results of this study suggest that both conditions (which are now one category in the new DSM-5) are related, although they present with physiological differences in brain connectivity. But although the study included a reasonable number of participants, it needs to be replicated to see if new studies result in similar findings.

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