Biology holds the key to unravelling the mystery behind the aggressiveness of some individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The difference in the structure of their brains explains their behavioral issues.
Researchers stress that discovering the root cause of such issues could help with early interventions and could help everyone involved in an autistic individual’s life. Through a study based on MRI scans of autistic versus non-autistic individuals, researchers found a direct correlation between a child’s propensity for aggression and brain stem volume.
Individuals with smaller brain stems were more inclined toward aggressiveness and faced difficulties with self-control, as per the latest studies conducted by a group of researchers, published in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Kevin Stephenson at Brigham Young University says “The brain stem is really involved in autonomic activities—breathing, heart rate, staying awake—so this is evidence that there’s something core and basic—this connection between aggression and autism.”
Forty-five autistic boys underwent MRI scans as researchers tried to establish evidence regarding behavioural issues by looking at the data found at different regions of the brain. The results were further cross-referenced with irritability scores of the children.
Out of the many children scanned, 14 of the autistic individuals were found to have high levels of aggression, while others were in the less aggressive group.
The brain stem was found to be the major source for high levels of aggression in the study. Further research is being planned, since it is vital that they discover the various reasons behind the aggressive behaviours; this research could help in identifying better ways to tackle aggression in autistic individuals.
Terisa Gabrielsen, assistant professor at Brigham Young University, co-authored the study, and said, “If we know what part of the brain is different and what function that part of the brain controls, that can give us some clues into what we can do in the way of intervention.”