In Study, MRI Scan 90% Accurate Identifying Autism
The full story cautions that this is merely one study, but it is interesting. From the story on CNN's website:
Scientists are finding more pieces of the autism puzzle of with the help of MRI scans of brain circuitry, according to a study published Thursday online in the journal Autism Research.
By scanning the brain for 10 minutes using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers were able to measure six physical differences of microscopic fibers in the brains of 30 males with confirmed high-functioning autism and 30 males without autism.Here is my question:
What is confirmed high-functioning autism?
HFA is not a standardized diagnosis, as it does not appear in the DSM-IV. It is a subjective diagnosis, and there are constant debates as to what differentiates HFA from Asperger's Syndrome or PDD-NOS. I have even heard discussions claiming it is easy to confuse "moderate" (whatever that means) autism with a "correct" diagnosis of ADD/ADHD with co-morbid conditions.
I have to wonder, what if the MRI is correct when it identifies a specific physical form of autism (what we might call a physical expression or manifestation, though I dislike both terms for etiological markers) and the psychological diagnosis is "wrong" by some measure?
We know that one person (take me, for example) screened by different "experts" with different backgrounds can be diagnosed with several different and even conflicting conditions. Even the medical experts make mistakes; it is hard to tell some forms of seizures from migraines, for example. If a patient has a complex history, an accurate diagnosis is a challenge for even the best neurologists.
What if the MRI is more accurate than traditional autism diagnostic instruments? We already know that diagnostic instruments, especially screening questionnaires, are of variable quality. I'm merely wondering, since MRI tests are less variable, less subjective, what if the MRI is accurate and some of the existing diagnoses of test subjects were wrong? (Yes, I know "right/wrong" is a complex argument, as well. I'm trying to stress the subjective vs. objective nature of the MRI.)
I'm not claiming there is nothing special about those subjects the MRI did not identify. What I am suggesting is that the MRI researchers might have stumbled upon one, and only one, unique form of autism we could label as a physical condition of the brain. I'm certain there are other "autisms" to be discovered, as well.