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Brainiac

Big Data: A first-of-its-kind experiment

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43: That’s the number of children studied in a first-of-its-kind experiment on autism at the University of California, Riverside. The children, ages 7 to 10, had either typical development or autism spectrum disorder. They were asked to play a game, a variation of “pick a hand, any hand,” while connected to a machine that tracked the electrical impluses in their brains.

The results show that the reason many children with autism spectrum disorder shy away from social contact is a combination of two factors. First, their brains don’t offer the same dopamine “rewards” that the brains of children with typical development receive during social interactions. Secondly, the children who have autism spectrum disorder experience social interactions is such a strong way — imagine talking with someone that you perceive is always yelling — that they avoid them entirely.

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