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Clinically, this modification and restriction of diagnostic criteria resulted in an expansion in nosology and epidemiology, raising questions over the latent role of modified diagnostic thresholds (Fombonne, 2003; Hill et al., 2015).
Despite traditionally conceptualized as a behaviorally defined psychological disorder—as mirrored by the lack of biomarkers for ASD—trends reported in 2007 indicated a promising shift in ASD media coverage and academic discourse toward the examination of physiological axes, including underlying neurological etiology (Singh et al., 2007).
Such results were further supported by a broad quantification of Autism research focus between 19 by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Center (Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) and and National Institute of Mental Health and Thomson Reuters, Inc., 2012).
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is an umbrella term encompassing the diagnoses of autism, Asperger’s syndrome (AS) and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Proposed in the early 1980s (Wing, 1981, 1997; Nordin and Gillberg, 1996), the ‘Autism Spectrum’ was first clinically conceptualized with the publication of the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994).
Indeed, the Precision Medicine initiative—including Computational Psychiatry (Friston et al., 2014; Insel, 2014; Wang and Krystal, 2014; Torres et al., 2016)—endorses a personalized and objective approach to health through the integration of layers of the knowledge network to provide a tailored and objective examination of disorder progression, as well as treatment and prognosis, where appropriate (Figure 1B).
Similarly, the NIMH’s RDo C initiative (Research Domain Criteria; Insel, 2014) encourages research to move beyond broad psychological classifications, such as those provided by the American Psychiatric Association, 2013), which often lack sensitivity and specificity, and instead, traverse populations based on quantifiable physiological factors. (A) While the clinical landscape of Autism has witnessed a transformation with the amalgamation of Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS into a single umbrella term of autism spectrum disorder, the new era of precision medicine (B) encourages the integration of precise individualized information toward a specific diagnosis and intervention https://figshare.com/s/eb6150e5f2fc0acd7a2c.An initial frequency-based time-series assessment was applied to identify the publication rate per year, the most frequently occurring journals for publication per year, and summative citation analytics.Unfortunately, the provision of author keywords is notably inconsistent—with many failing to provide such text markers—as such, database attributed keywords were extracted to isolate areas of research focus.The nosology and epidemiology of Autism has undergone transformation following consolidation of once disparate disorders under the umbrella diagnostic, autism spectrum disorders.Despite this re-conceptualization, research initiatives, including the NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria and Precision Medicine, highlight the need to bridge psychiatric and psychological classification methodologies with biomedical techniques.A total of 25,782 extracted keywords were pre-processed to trim white space and remove numeric only entries before being converted to lower case and stemmed to characters 1:6 (facilitating the automatic augmentation of similar terms, e.g., Behavior, Behavioral, and Behavioral Intervention were subsumed into a single representative term).Duplicates were combined creating a unique dictionary of 6242 stemmed keywords for corpus analysis.This article departs from this approach, and instead, objectively profiles the evolution and diversity of Autism research with a focus on self-emerging patterns of term association (rather than a priori enforced heuristics).Modularity techniques and graph theory visualization provide a comprehensive, accessible overview of self-identified trends in research focus.However, modularity and citation analytics demonstrate dominance of subjective psychological or psychiatric constructs, which may impede progress in the identification and stratification of biomarkers as endorsed by new research initiatives.“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance” -Hippocrates.