Imagine being confined for at least half an hour to a dark, claustrophobic tunnel, in a machine so obnoxiously loud that it sounds like you’re in an oil drum with a jackhammer pounding on the outside. Thatʼs whatʼs involved in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): an experience enough to make even the bravest among us flinch.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Charting the structure and function of the brain’s many circuits may unravel autism’s mysteries.
In 1982, Josh Huang was an impressionable young biology undergraduate at Shanghaiʼs FuDan University. Like some of his fellow Chinese students, he knew he wanted to be a neuroscientist, but with limited access to scientific journals, had no idea which big questions were then at the forefront of research.
Gray matter, that mysterious brain substance, is thought to control everything from motor function to mental acuity. In recent years several studies have suggested that an excess of gray matter during childhood is to blame for the symptoms of autism.
Donald T. was not like other 5-year-old boys. Leo Kanner knew that the moment he read the 33-page letter from Donaldʼs father that described the boy in obsessive detail as “happiest when he was alone… drawing into a shell and living within himself… oblivious to everything around him.”