Autism research by UC Davis MIND Institute Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Sally Rogers has been named number five among the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs of 2012 by TIME magazine.
The acknowledgement is for research published in October in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, which found that Rogers’ Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) intervention is effective for improving cognition and language skills among very young children with autism, that it normalizes their brain activity, decreases their autism symptoms and improves their social skills.
“Autistic youngsters generally show more brain activity when they view images of an inanimate object like a toy than when they see a picture of a woman’s face,” the TIME article notes. “But after two years of ESDM therapy, the autistic children showed the opposite response, and these patterns came close to mimicking those found among normally developing children.
“It’s a hopeful sign that it’s possible to halt some of the brain changes linked to autism, and possibly even reverse them," the article says.
“We know that infant brains are quite malleable and previously demonstrated that this therapy capitalizes on the potential of learning that an infant brain has in order to limit autism's deleterious effects," Rogers said of her research.
“The findings on improved behavioral outcomes and the ability to normalize brain activity associated with social activities signify that there is tremendous potential for the brains of children with autism to develop and grow more normally," she said.