Autism is exemplified by many symptoms that can vary in severity from one person to another. This unpredictability not only presents a problem for diagnosis but also how good to devise a course of treatment. Pinpointing the specific phenotype of the disorder is, therefore, a vital first step to presenting adequate care.
Eye movements and the systems by which the brain controls and processes what we opt to look at have been the primary focus of neuroscience researchers for many years. The rapid eye movements we make when we change our attention from one object to another, referred to as saccades, are crucial to navigating, understanding, and interacting with the community around us. In healthy people, these saccades are quick, exact, and accurate, redirecting the line of sight from one point of interest to another.
The potential importance of eye movement in people with Autism is the area of the brain that controls these actions, a densely-packed structure of neurons referred to as the cerebellum. Traditionally deemed to play a part in motor control, the cerebellum is now believed to be vital to emotion and cognition through its connections to the rest of the brain. There is increasing evidence that the structure of the cerebellum is redefined in a subpopulation of people with AUTISM.
In many experiments, the authors of the current study tracked the eye movements of people with AUTISM. The members were required to track a visual target that emerged in different locations on the screen. The experiment was made in a manner that often induced the participant’s focus to “overshoot” the intended target. In healthy people, the brain would correctly adjust eye movements as the work is repeated. However, the eye movements of people with AUTISM persisted to miss the target suggesting that the sensory motor controls in the cerebellum liable for eye movement were deteriorated.
The incapability of the brain to adjust the size of eye movement may not only be a marker for cerebellum disorder, but it may also help explain the communication and social interaction deficits that many people with AUTISM experience.
These findings show that assessing the ability of individuals to adapt saccade amplitudes is a sure way to determine whether this function of the cerebellum is adjusted in AUTISM said, Edward Freedman. He also said, “if these deficits do end up to be a regular finding in a sub-group of kids with AUTISM, this raises the possibility that saccade adaptation measures may have utility as a technique that will allow early detection of this disorder.”