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J Autism Dev Disord. 2012 Apr;42(4):585-92. doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1281-2.

Long-term cognitive and behavioral therapies, combined with augmentative communication, are related to uncinate fasciculus integrity in autism.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, Ophthalmology and Genetics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy.


Recent evidence points to white-matter abnormalities as a key factor in autism physiopathology. Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging, we studied white-matter structural properties in a convenience sample of twenty-two subjects with low-functioning autism exposed to long-term augmentative and alternative communication, combined with sessions of cognitive and behavioral therapy. Uncinate fasciculus structural properties correlated significantly with therapy length and early onset, as well as to clinical outcome, independently from IQ, age or symptoms severity at therapy onset. Moreover, adherence to therapy was linked with better clinical outcome and uncinate fasciculus structural integrity. The results point to the capability of a long-term rehabilitation of subjects with low-functioning autism to produce white-matter structural modifications, which could thus play a role in the rehabilitative outcome.

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