A new brain scan that focuses on the type of connections the brain makes could help scientists better understand autism and other developmental disorders.

In a traditional MRI, doctors look at the structure of the brain. But the new type of scan — known as a functional connectivity MRI — looks at the area where problems more often occur in those with developmental disabilities: the way in which different parts of the brain communicate. By looking at these connections, scientists report in the September issue of the journal Science that they can determine a person’s brain age.

This is significant because typically developing individuals establish stronger brain connections as they age, while allowing other neurological communications to wane. However, researchers say those with autism and other disabilities may hold onto connections from childhood longer or fail to establish more mature communications.

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Accordingly, the results of the simple, 5-minute brain scan could help doctors better identify and understand developmental delays, reports NPR. To read more click here.