A group of researchers is making a major leap in understanding how the brains of people with severe autism learn to speak in a way that is both more natural and understandable to them.
The results could help to understand the mechanisms that enable people with the disorder to learn to control their speech, even in noisy environments.
In a paper published in the journal Brain, the team at Harvard Medical School describes how the brain learns to understand a person’s speech when they are not actively listening to it, even when the person is speaking in a natural way.
In other words, the brain may use its auditory brain regions to learn from people’s own speech.
And in an earlier paper, the researchers report that when people with autistic disorder are asked to speak to a camera and they can’t understand what the camera is asking them to say, they learn a sentence by using their own language.
The study’s co-authors are neuroscientists Dr. Mark Zolodny and Daniela Derevnik.
“We’re looking at how we can understand how the human brain learns language,” said Dr. Zolopny, the John B. Olin Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard and co-author of the study.
“The brain has evolved a language system that’s very different from the language we use to communicate with other people.”
The brain may not have the same level of cognitive flexibility and memory capacity as we do, which is why we can’t learn to talk to people in an understandable way, Dr. Derevinik said.
She noted that in people with mild autism, a person may speak like a person would, but in those with autism spectrum disorder, the person’s brain may have trouble with understanding the speaker’s intent.
The team looked at how the people with ASD learned to speak and their speech was processed differently from other people.
For example, the people who had severe autism were taught to make sounds and use certain sounds, such as the word “mah,” in order to indicate the correct word.
In contrast, the rest of the group learned to make and use the sounds that the camera was recording.
The researchers found that when the participants were asked to use sounds to indicate what the person was saying, the brains and muscles in the brain’s left temporal lobe, which processes speech, were not as good at processing what the speakers were saying as people with less severe autism.
This could be because the left temporal lobes are more flexible than those in the right temporal lobe.
In this study, the left hemisphere was less flexible than the right hemisphere.
The findings suggest that this left hemisphere area is more sensitive to cues than the other two areas, which makes it less likely that it will be able to interpret the language that is being spoken.
The research also suggests that this part of the brain is more involved in processing language and understanding what someone is saying.
“This study suggests that we need to look at different areas in the language system, especially in the left and right temporal lobules, in order for people to develop a better understanding of language,” Dr. Verena Krivova, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard who was not involved in the study, said in a statement.
The brains of the researchers have not been studied before, but they are able to identify parts of the speech and gesture processing that are not easily identified in normal people.
This is the first study to study how people with a severe autism can learn to use gestures and speech in a different way than other people, Dr Zolody said.
“They may be able use gestures, like using fingers or a hand to make a gesture, but when they use language they’re more focused and they’re using the right parts of their brain,” he said.
The authors plan to investigate whether this ability to use language and gestures might help people with certain disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, learn to communicate.
The brain research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.