(BABW NEWS) A team of neuroscientists from Harvard and MIT has made a huge breakthrough in the study of autism. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the researchers have established a link between a neurotransmitter, GABA, and various symptoms of autism. The discovery may lead to a deeper understanding of the condition and pave the trail for new methods of treating and identifying it.
According to MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research postdoc Caroline Robertson, "This is the first connection in humans between a neurotransmitter in the brain and an autistic behavioral symptom."
GABA inhibits brain cells from firing in response to stimuli from the outside environment. Robertson described its role as curbing the feeling of "runway excitation" the brain experiences.
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Researchers have long suspected that a deficiency in the GABA neurotransmitter can lead to heightened sensitivity to sensory stimulus, a result of overexcited neurons in the brain. Robertson explains that GABA helps filter out irrelevant signals from the outside world, allowing people to focus on a task at hand.