Campus pulse

Brain patterns can reveal future development of autism in children

New research from the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences indicates that scientists can predict the linguistic, cognitive, and adaptive development of young children with autism by looking at how their brains process new words at age 2. 

They gathered two groups of 2-year-old children: 24 of them with autism and 20 of them without. Researchers placed elastic caps with electrodes over the heads of the children to monitor their brain activity. As the children listened to a reading of new words, the researcher observed the resulting neural patterns.

This research is among a few new studies that indicate that early brain structure can help scientists and medical professionals understand how a child will develop with autism. But lead researcher Patricia Kuhl hopes that further research will allow scientists to make predictions at an even younger age: hopefully 12 months or younger. 


Diesel exhaust can deactivate the health benefits of good cholesterol

Most know that there are two forms of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — the good kind, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) ­— the bad kind. LDL is commonly associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. And normally, HDL helps to clean blood vessels of this bad protein and remove it from the body.

But diesel exhaust contains free radicals that can oxidize molecules, including HDL, which prevents the good cholesterols from being an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory.

The researchers exposed one group of mice to diesel exhaust for two weeks, a different group of mice to clean air for two weeks, and third group to polluted air for two weeks and then filtered air for a week. Researchers found that the extra week in filtered air was not long enough to allow the impacts of the diesel exhaust on HDL to reverse itself. Rather, the findings seemed to imply that pollution can have long-term effects on HDL concentration and cardiovascular disease.


Airlift Northwest permanently established in Yakima

Airlift Northwest, the medical transportation service operated through UW Medicine, is permanently stationing an air ambulance at Yakima Airport. Previously, Airlift Northwest flew a plane into the region on a daily basis. But now the air ambulance will be able to provide emergency medical assistance to Yakima, Wenatchee, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Moses Lake, Ellensburg, Omak, the Tri-Cities, and other Central Washington communities.


Reach Science Editor Sohrab Andaz at science@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @SohrabAndaz


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