Louisville Magazine

AUG 2013

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: http://loumag.epubxp.com/i/144820

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 61 of 156

published last year, 40 people with autism, ages nine through 21, were asked to play a simple video game. All were "high functioning," with an average IQ score of 90.8, plus-or-minus 15. In the game, one of four shapes would fash on the screen once every second. Two of the shapes were designated as targets. Te players were told, when you see a target, strike a computer key. When you see anything else, do nothing. People with autism have trouble with this game. Signifcantly, they do not slow down after making a mistake, Sokhadze says. "In autism, they try to press faster." Consequently, their error rates are higher than those of people without autism. Te experiment asked: Would this magnetic treatment — called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) — improve game performance? And the more technical question it posed: Would treatment make brain signals look diferent during game play? All 40 test subjects were asked to play the game while a computer tallied their errors and response times. In addition, an electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded each brain's electrical impulses, tracing activity thought to indicate automatic error detection as well as patterns associated with the head-slap moment when a mistake hits consciousness. After the initial play session, 20 of the players were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of weekly rTMS. Ten all 40 played the game again. Before rTMS treatment, there was no signal in either of the two error-recognition waves in the brains of the 40 test subjects. But in the second test, not only did the 20 subjects who received rTMS treatments make fewer mistakes and slow down after making errors; they also showed a response to their errors in the electronic signal associated with automatic error detection. Te head-slap signal — the one that may be linked to conscious processing — remained unchanged. Tis is just one in a series of autism studies Sokhadze has performed with rTMS. A key to autism: Researcher Estate Sokhadze (top lef) sends magnetic pulses to the dorsolateral prefontal cortex of seven-yearold Augusta Womack using what looks like an Augusta-size wind-up key. He and Dr. Manuel Casanova (above and lower lef) partnered to develop repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS. Earlier work showed that rTMS treatment helped high-functioning people with autism ignore irrelevant information — a big problem in autism — and focus on what matters. For some people with autism, particularly higher-functioning individuals, the advances after rTMS have been profound, Sokhadze says. "Tere is one kid from Frankfort who saw such dramatic improvement, his family insisted on coming again for booster sessions. And we still see good results three months after the end of treatment." His research also indicates that the more 8.13 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 59

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Louisville Magazine - AUG 2013