In a study published last week, researchers looked at the visual tracking of people with and without ASD as they followed a target on a computer screen. Key differences were found between the groups based on their saccades. What are saccades? They are the very rapid shifts both eyes make as they shift gaze and attention. You rely on them every waking moment as they help you navigate, socialize and appreciate beauty in your environment.
The precision of saccades and visual tracking is orchestrated by the cerebellum. In people with ASD, the reduced visual tracking ability may identify poor functioning of the cerebellum, and may also explain the difficulties with communication and social interaction that some people with ASD experience. This connection becomes clearer when you understand that the cerebellum is massively connected not only to motor areas of the brain, but also to areas involved in attention, language, planning and even emotion.
In a recent The Doctor is In article, Dr. Ron talked about how his fascination with the cerebellum developed; time and again, he witnessed the dramatic improvement and increase of spontaneous communication, play, reading and/or emotional regulation after a major motor milestone – like learning to catch a ball or ride a bike. This emphasized how body organization is necessary for brain organization.
This is true for all people. The part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes emotions and learning. You guessed it: the cerebellum.
Learn more about the role of the cerebellum in iLs programs.