Study: Why Eye Contact Is Tough for People With Autism

Source: HealthDay Consumer Online

A common characteristic of autism is a reluctance to make eye contact with others, and researchers now think they know where in the brain this comes from. Brain scans show that folks with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) had significantly less activity in their dorsal parietal cortex during eye-to-eye contact, compared to people without ASD, researchers report.

The dorsal parietal cortex also has been linked with the social symptoms of autism. Armed with these study results, researchers can use this brain region to potentially help diagnose autism and test treatments.

For the study, Yale University School of Medicine professor and co-researcher Joy Hirsch and her colleagues analyzed brain activity during brief social interactions of 17 healthy adults with autism paired with 19 adults without autism.

Both sets of participants were fitted with caps that emitted light into the brain and recorded changes in light signals prompted by brain activity. The more severe a person’s overall symptoms of autism were, the less activity was seen in the dorsal parietal cortex when they tried to maintain eye contact with their study partner, researchers found.

“Our brains are hungry for information about other people, and we need to understand how these social mechanisms operate in the context of a real and interactive world in both typically developed individuals as well as individuals with ASD,” said Prof. Hirsch in a news release.

The new study was published Nov. 9 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More American youth than ever are so addicted to e-cigarettes that they vape within 5 minutes of waking up in the morning, a new analysis shows.

While that percentage was around just 1% in 2017, it increased every year after that. It reached 10.3% by 2021, researchers reported.

In the study, the researchers culled data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which looks at tobacco use among middle and high school students.

The survey for 2022 found about 2.5 million adolescents used e-cigarettes, with 27.6% of adolescents using the devices daily. That was compared to 2.1 million and 24.7% in 2021.

Not only that, but the age at which youths started using e-cigarettes dropped between 2014 and 2021 by 1.9 months per year, the researchers added.

The intensity at which youths use the products and their addiction to them increased after companies began using protonated nicotine, which is created by adding acid to the e-cigarette liquid, according to the study. This makes the nicotine easier to inhale.

Between 2014 and 2018, median e-cigarette use was three to five days per month. That grew to six to nine days per month in 2019-2020 and 10 to 19 days per month in 2021.

The findings were published Nov. 7 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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