One of the most controversial mental disorders is autism. Scientists have made a breakthrough in a newly conducted study that indicates that autism is caused by an over stimulation of synapses in the brain, but the effects on the brain still leaves more questions than answers, affecting a cure. On August 21, 2014, scientists determined that autism may be caused by over active synapses which were tested in the brain tissues of an estimated two dozen deceased patients ranging in ages from two to 20 years. Synapses are the connections that allow the brain to send and receive neurons. When a child has autism, these synapses overload through adolescence and childhood, limiting the functionality and development of other brain functions.
Within the nervous system of the brain, synapses serve as a structure to reduce and induce neurons in the brain. Synapses pass electrical and chemical signals to other cells. Synapses can be found in nerve cells which are connected to glands and muscles in the body.
Causes of Autistic Spectrum Disorder have been sensationally linked to everything from canned food to vaccines. The controversy of autism lies within the field of psychology. As stated explicitly by the American Psychological Association in 2005-2006, they are not a science, thus leading to the conclusion that the scientific method is absent during diagnosis. Psychology relies on behavioral rationale observation. Debate of the scientific efficiency of psychology is a convoluted matter based in the historical aspects of psychology. For example, how the DSM/ICD, a system that documents new disorders has a racy history of having homosexuality and even sibling rivalry as disorders. In fact, neuroscience has been deemed more prevalent and invasive to the working of the brain versus analyzing subjective mental states.
Statistics of autism are one in 68 kids in America, a staggering number for the disorder that ranges between moderate to severe and can include seizures which over a third of patients have. Despite the breakthrough heading into the direction of synapses, it still continues to be unclear as to how the prevalence of such a grand statistic can exist for a mental disorder. Also given that a subset of children can outgrow autism in adulthood and even receive a misdiagnosis for simply being introverted yet fast paced thinking kids, the effects of autism in context to synapses with the statistic in mind, such as over stimulus, seems rare.
Claims of children outgrowing all autistic traits as early as eight to 21 years has been a steady occurrence. From a general consensus of scientists involved, some of these kids did receive behavioral treatments, the treatments are not proven to be a solid conclusion to the permanent loss of autism. The study did not necessarily indicate the level of autism outgrown, leading scientists to believe that moderate cases of autism are reversible depending on medication and treatment. Sensory Processing Disorder is another brain disorder, closely intertwined with autism. Though it is rarely diagnosed.
Besides the brain tissues of deceased patients, lab rats were used to understand the full effects and cause. Although genetics plays into autism, the overactive protein called mTOR is also an occurring force and may be the main inducer of autistic spectrum disorders. In order for the brain to properly develop, pruning needs to occur. Pruning is the process of getting rid of unwanted synapses. Autophagy also plays a role in essentially regulating the brain’s development. In the presence of over excessive mTOR, autophagy cannot clean out the brain. Similar to the way a computer needs to be cleaned of malware, registry errors and problematic files to work properly. If this cleaning maintainence is not carried out, the performance worsens while the CPU maxes out. A brain is very similar to a computer. Autophagy makes sure unwanted processes are cleared. Neuroscience is a strong force in detailing the brain and the association seems solid but it trails off leaving more questions than answers which further sets back how synapses affect the brain’s regulation without present genetics and a plethora of moderate to severe cases.
An over abundance of synaptic spines adds to the physical underdevelopment of the brain. Spines or Dendritic Spines are the axons in a neuron, tiny protrusions that are membranous and are vital to the physical brain structure. Too many spines causes autophagy to not regulate the overall synapses needed. Extra spines also tend to be damaged.
On a positive note, a cure might be on the horizon for at least moderate cases although the description of moderate is heavily debated. Still, autism is closely related to high IQs and intelligence. A complication in trying to logically perceive how over stimulus of synapses can limit brain function along with development while a person can have high intelligence is a hole in the theory. This makes it almost too illogical for the common man to comprehend.
The cure for Autism may essentially be a drug that causes pruning, cleansing the brain of unnecessary synapses processes. The cure is unfit for humans and will likely not be available for a long time.
Science is progressing but the neuroscience of the brain creates a significant turning point in understanding autism. The next study to occur is to examine why autism has spiked in the last few years. This could also bring up questions of disorders and human evolution. A genome in evolution for such mental disorders has been unfounded due to limited resources to investigate mental states and the neurological attributes of mankind’s earliest ancestors.
Journalists have reported that Asian and European ancestors did show a link to bipolar disorder. Ancestry does not necessarily indicate the cognitive abilities of homo erectus. Mainly, pondering how these mental disorders alongside illnesses evolved. The genome for disorders and illness is yet to be scientifically peer-reviewed. The hypothesis of over stimulation in autism has long been agreed upon through observation. Now that the effects on the brain through neuroscience has been established, the peak of explanation in mental disorders is revealing new questions with fewer answers to the newly found variable of autism affecting synapses.
By Jordan Davis