Science & Society | News | Patrícia Monteiro - What is the relationship between the primary hearing cortex and autism?

Patrícia Monteiro - What is the relationship between the primary hearing cortex and autism?

This research is focusing in the area of ​​our brain responsible for hearing, the primary auditory cortex, to study its relationship to autism.
Patrícia Monteiro, a researcher at the Institute of Life and Health Sciences (ICVS) at the University of Minho School of Medicine (EMUM), has been studying the neurobiology of autism since 2009.
"My interest in autism begun a few years ago in 2009, I developed research in this area in the USA in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and after coming to Portugal I continued interested in this area. Many of the studies have focused more on the cognitive part and the psychology part of autism spectrum disorders but we still know very little about the underlying neurobiology and the exact mechanisms of brain functioning in autism, "he explains.
The aim of Patrícia Monteiro is to study the primary auditory cortex, the area of ​​our brain responsible for auditory perception, and its relation to autism.
To do so, the researcher will use silicon microelectrodes. This technology is able to record the activity of neurons and the way our brain responds to a particular auditory stimulus.
"Why is this important? Because the way we interact with the World is a product of our perception of that same World. There is a significant coexistence in the cases of autism spectrum disturbance in which a certain acoustic hypersensitivity is often described to the auditory stimuli and therefore we want to take advantage of a new technology: the microelectrodes of silicon. The silicon microelectrodes will be inserted into this area of ​​the brain, the primary auditory cortex, where they will record the activity of neurons in the cells of our brain to a certain auditory stimulus in the case of the model animals of disturbance of the spectrum of autism versus the control animals " , clarifies.
The comparison between these two different animal models will allow Patrícia Monteiro to draw some conclusions about how autism alters auditory perception in the brains of affected people.

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