Gait and the Autism issue.

One more possible piece to the autism issue.

In this study, researchers discovered that between the first and 2 years of age, the brain networks linked to walking change. 
"At 12 months, stronger connections between the brain’s motor and default-mode networks were associated with better walking and gross motor skills. By 24 months, brain networks linked to attention and task control also had become engaged in walking and gross motor skills, the research shows."

Scientists have identified brain networks involved in a baby's locomotion systems, and they feel this discovery may help predict autism risks. As this study indicates, building on prior research showing those infants who show skill development delays in coordination and movement are more likely to indicate risk for autism spectrum disorder. The researchers believe they have discovered a root cause in the "default-mode network", a network thought to be very involved in developing one’s own sense of self. The researchers feel it is possible that the brains of children who go on to develop autism are not as adept at making those network connections and processing that data.

“Walking is a huge gross motor milestone, and it’s associated with a child’s understanding of his or her own body in relation to the environment,” said first author Natasha Marrus, an assistant professor of child psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“Understanding the early development of functional brain networks underlying walking and motor function in infancy adds critically important information to our understanding not only of typical development but also of a key deficit that appears early in the development of a number of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism,” says Joseph Piven.

“When a child first learns to walk, a big breakthrough involves just putting one foot in front of the other and learning to control one’s limbs,” Marrus says. “As walking improves, it’s possible the child may begin to think, ‘Where, exactly, do I want to put my foot?’ Or, ‘Do I need to adjust my position?’ And by becoming more or less active, the default-mode network, along with other networks, may help process that information."

Read the original source article here,