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Psychiatry Res. 2006 Oct 30;147(2-3):145-51. Epub 2006 Aug 30.

Abnormal brain size effect on the thalamus in autism.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


This study was conducted to examine the volume of the thalamus in autism and to investigate the effect of brain size on this structure in an attempt to replicate, in a larger sample, findings from a previous study reporting the existence of a relationship between brain volume and thalamus in healthy controls but not in individuals with autism. Additionally, the relationships between thalamic volumes and clinical features were examined. Volumetric measurements of the right and left thalamic nuclei were performed on MRI scans obtained from 40 high-functioning individuals with autism (age range: 8-45 years) and 41 healthy controls (age range: 9-43 years). No differences were observed between the two groups for unadjusted thalamic volumes. However, the expected linear relationship between TBV and thalamic volume was not observed in individuals with autism. Furthermore, no correlations were observed between thalamic volumes and clinical features. Findings from this larger study are consistent with the previous report of an abnormal brain size effect on the thalamus in autism and support the possibility of abnormal connections between cortical and subcortical structures in this disorder.

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