For years, psychiatrists have struggled to define the exact biological differences between Asperger’s and Autism. However, a new study by Dr. Frank Duffy, performed at Boston’s Children Hospital, has led to new information that will help to better differentiate Asperger’s and Autism.
In the study, Duffy used EEG recordings to measure brain activity in children with Asperger’s. This same EEG study was once performed on Autistic children, and by then comparing the two results, Duffy and his team were able to identify several difference between the brains of children with Asperger’s, and those with Autism.
Duffy explained his goals in researching Asperger’s patient’s brains. He said, "We looked at a group of 26 children with Asperger's, to see whether measures of brain connectivity would indicate they're part of autism group, or they stood separately."
Naturally, the brain patterns of Autistic and Asperger’s patients showed sever similarities. In particular, both groups showed weak connections in a section of the brain called the arcuate fasciculus – a section heavily involved with language.
However, Duffy and his team were able to find several small, yet significant, differences between the two brain types. These small differences represent the ways in which Autism and Asperger’s patients react differently.
Recently, the American Psychiatric Association opted to eliminate Asperger’s from the DSM5, instead establishing an “Autism spectrum” in which Asperger’s lies. This new evidence may be enough to re-establish Asperger’s as biologically unrelated to Autism – even if the effects of the two conditions are similar.
Duffy notes that defining the biological relationship -or lack of relationship- between Asperger’s and Autism is a pressing concern. He said, “It's essential to separate these two groups, because they need different education and training and opportunity.”