LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A children’s neurologist at UCLA is testing kids with autism who enrolled in a 90-Day Intervention Program to learn more about how their minds work.

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Dr. Shafali Jeste says one of the main requirements for an autism diagnosis is language impairment; kids struggle to follow commands or answer questions.  Using her methodology, a cap covered with electrodes is fitted snugly on 4 ½- year-old Michael Naderi’s head and Jeste is able to scan when he sees objects, pattern and faces.

“What we can do by putting a net on a kids head is look at their brain activity.  We can say, what is the brain doing to process that face or what is the brain doing to understand that pattern,” says Jeste.

Michael is shown three pairs of shapes, over and over.  Then after a while, one that’s different is flashed on the screen.  If Michael has learned the patterns, there’s a spike in his brain activity. His brain is surprised there’s a different pair.  If he hasn’t learned them, there will be no spike.

The idea of Dr. Jeste’s research will not only help to improve treatment for kids with autism, but also assist in early diagnosis.  Jeste hopes to detect markers for autism in children as young as six months so that treatment can be started that early and change that child’s outcome or even prevent them from getting autism altogether.

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