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Brain Res Bull. 2003 Oct 15;61(6):557-69.

Brain anatomy and development in autism: review of structural MRI studies.

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1
Biological Psychiatry Unit, IRCCS S Giovanni di Dio Hospital, Fatebenefratelli, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy. brambillapf@tiscalinet.it

Abstract

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that severely disrupts social and cognitive functions. MRI is the method of choice for in vivo and non-invasively investigating human brain morphology in children and adolescents. The authors reviewed structural MRI studies that investigated structural brain anatomy and development in autistic patients. All original MRI research papers involving autistic patients, published from 1966 to May 2003, were reviewed in order to elucidate brain anatomy and development of autism and rated for completeness using a 12-item check-list. Increased total brain, parieto-temporal lobe, and cerebellar hemisphere volumes were the most replicated abnormalities in autism. Interestingly, recent findings suggested that the size of amygdala, hippocampus, and corpus callosum may also be abnormal. It is conceivable that abnormalities in neural network involving fronto-temporo-parietal cortex, limbic system, and cerebellum may underlie the pathophysiology of autism, and that such changes could result from abnormal brain development during early life. Nonetheless, available MRI studies were often conflicting and could have been limited by methodological issues. Future MRI investigations should include well-characterized groups of autistic and matched healthy individuals, while taking into consideration confounding factors such as IQ, and socioeconomic status.

PMID:
14519452
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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