According to new research from Flinders University and the University of South Australia, the eye may also be able to detect neurodevelopmental diseases such as ASD and ADHD regardless of their external appearance.

Researchers discovered that recordings from the retina could identify unique signals for both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), giving a potential biomarker for each ailment in the first study of its kind.

Researchers discovered that children with ADHD had higher total ERG energy, whereas children with ASD had lower ERG energy, using the ‘electroretinogram’ (ERG), a diagnostic test that monitors the electrical activity of the retina in response to a light stimulus.

Dr Paul Constable, a research optometrist at Flinders University, believes the preliminary findings point to promising future diagnosis and treatments.

“The most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood are ASD and ADHD.” However, because they frequently have similar characteristics, diagnosing both illnesses can be time-consuming and challenging,” Dr. Constable notes.

“The goal of our research is to improve this.” We intend to achieve more accurate and early diagnoses for various neurodevelopmental problems by investigating how signals in the retina react to light stimuli.

“Because retinal signals are generated by specific nerves, if we can identify these differences and localise them to specific pathways that use different chemical signals that are also used in the brain, we can show distinct differences for children with ADHD and ASD, as well as potentially other neurodevelopmental conditions.”

“This work provides preliminary evidence for neurophysiological abnormalities that separate both ADHD and ASD from typically developing youngsters, as well as evidence that they can be discriminated from one another based on ERG features.”

According to the World Health Organization, one in every hundred children has ASD, and 5-8 percent of youngsters have ADHD.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by excessive activity, trouble paying attention, and difficulties managing impulsive behaviours. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental illness in which children behave, speak, interact, and learn differently than most other people.

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Dr Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, co-researcher and expert in human and artificial cognition at the University of South Australia, believes the study has the potential to apply to other neurological diseases.

“Ultimately, we’re interested in how the eyes might assist us comprehend the brain,” explains Dr. Marmolejo-Ramos.

“While further research is needed to identify abnormalities in retinal signals that are particular to these and other neurodevelopmental disorders, everything we’ve seen thus far indicates that we’re on the verge of something incredible.”

“It’s a case of monitoring this place; when it happens, the eyes could tell everything.”

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