Researchers discovered that recordings from the retina may distinguish between different signals for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), offering a potential biomarker for each ailment.
No matter how they appear on the outside, according to recent research from Flinders University and the University of South Australia, the eyes may also be able to detect neurodevelopmental abnormalities like ASD and ADHD. Researchers found that recordings from the retina could distinguish between different signals for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), offering a potential biomarker for each ailment. This was the first study of its sort. Researchers discovered that children with ADHD displayed higher total ERG energy, but children with ASD displayed lower ERG energy, using the “electroretinogram” (ERG), a diagnostic test that monitors the electrical activity of the retina in response to a light stimulus.
Dr. Paul Constable, a research optometrist at Flinders University, believes the early results show promise for future advancements in diagnostics and treatments.
“ASD and ADHD are the most common neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood. But as they often share similar traits, making diagnoses for both conditions can be lengthy and complicated,” Dr Constable says. “Our research aims to improve this. By exploring how signals in the retina react to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions. “Retinal signals have specific nerves that generate them, so if we can identify these differences and localise them to specific pathways that use different chemical signals that are also used in the brain, then we can show distinct differences for children with ADHD and ASD and potentially other neurodevelopmental conditions.” “This study delivers preliminary evidence for neurophysiological changes that not only differentiate both ADHD and ASD from typically developing children, but also evidence that they can be distinguished from each other based on ERG characteristics.”
One in 100 children, as well as 5% to 8% of all children, have ASD, according to the World Health Organization.
A neurodevelopmental disorder called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterised by excessive activity, difficulty focusing, and trouble reining in impulsive behaviour. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurological illness, behave, speak, interact, and learn differently from most other people.
Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, a co-researcher and professor of human and artificial cognition at the University of South Australia, believes the research has the potential to be applied to other neurological disorders.
“Ultimately, we’re looking at how the eyes can help us understand the brain,” Dr Marmolejo-Ramos says. “While further research is needed to establish abnormalities in retinal signals that are specific to these and other neurodevelopmental disorders, what we’ve observed so far shows that we are on the precipice of something amazing. “It is truly a case of watching this space; as it happens, the eyes could reveal all.”