A brain imaging test called PET has been shown to show “no clear evidence” that a person has autism, a leading neurologist said on Monday.
“I think the results of the PET scans are totally wrong, and they are absolutely meaningless,” Dr. Benyamin Ben-David told Israel’s Channel 2 news channel.
“We do not have evidence for any specific symptoms of autism.”
He said the tests were being used to study a rare form of brain disease called “neurological symptoms” (NS).
“I am surprised to see that the PET scanners are being used as a tool to study the brain of children with autism,” he said.
The test was first tested in the 1970s, but the latest results are based on the brain images taken from people with autism.
Dr. Ben-Shahar, who directs the Jerusalem Center for Neuroimaging Research, said that in a recent study in Israel, people with the disorder showed a brain structure that was closer to those of a child with ADHD, compared with those of an age-matched healthy adult.
“The PET scans have been used as part of a research project on neuroimaging of children and adolescents with ASD,” he told the news channel.
“There is no clear evidence that these children have autism, but it is still very concerning that the brain imaging tests are being conducted to study these children.”
Dr. Shaul Pinchas, a neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University, said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio that there were “substantial discrepancies” between the brain scans and the clinical symptoms of the disorder.
“We cannot say for certain what is going on in the brains of these children, but we know they have neurological symptoms and it is not clear whether this is the cause or a consequence of their neurological symptoms,” he explained.
Dr Pinchis also said that while the PET scanning studies were not showing a connection between brain structure and autism, the brain structure could help to identify potential brain disorders.
“This study may help to explain the neurodevelopmental differences in the children who have autism,” Dr Pinchaskis told Army Radio.
“This research is important in order to find out more about this neurodevelopment problem in the brain, so we can develop new ways to prevent the development of autism and to better understand the pathophysiology of autism,” she added.
The study was published online in the journal NeuroImage.