The Eunice Kennedy Shrive National Institute for Child Health and Human Development has granted $900,000 to Indiana University’s Department of Psychological and Brain Science to study the connection between fever and autism symptom relief.
Jeffrey Alberts and Christopher Harshaw are the researchers behind the study. They plan on addressing a growing number of reports from parents, who say that when their child has a fever, the social symptoms of autism are temporarily improved. The social symptoms include mood and communication.
Alberts says that this phenomenon isn’t completely unknown but the exact mechanisms that link body temperature to the behavioral changes are being researched.
The study will first be conducted with mice. Alberts has already studied heat conservation and huddling behaviors in rodents such as mice, as well as other mammals. He found that the more heat an animal produces, the more attractive it becomes to potential mates under cooler conditions.
This study will examine two types of mice: one with autism-like symptoms that will have their body heat tracked, and another group mice with poor heat regulation. This group will have their social behavior monitored.
Scientists predict that the inability to produce heat will affect their social behavior. They also think that the mice with impaired social behavior will have problems maintaining body temperature. Both groups will be compared to a control group.
By Sejal Sheth