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J Child Neurol. 2010 Dec;25(12):1462-7. doi: 10.1177/0883073810368311. Epub 2010 Apr 22.

Cortical gyrification in autistic and Asperger disorders: a preliminary magnetic resonance imaging study.

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Child Study Center and Investigative Medicine Program, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


The validity of Asperger disorder as a distinct syndrome from autism is unclear partly because of the paucity of differentiating neurobiological evidence. Frontal lobe cortical folding between these disorders was compared using the gyrification index. Twenty-three boys underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging: 6 with high-functioning autism, 9 with Asperger disorder, and 8 controls. Using the first coronal slice anterior to the corpus callosum, total and outer cortical contours were traced to calculate the gyrification index. This index was also calculated for superior and inferior regions to examine dorsolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices, respectively. Analysis of variance revealed differences in the left inferior gyrification index, which was higher in the autism group compared with Asperger and control groups. There were no differences in age, intelligence quotient, and brain volume. These preliminary findings suggest that cortical folding may be abnormally high in the frontal lobe in autism but not Asperger disorder, suggesting distinct frontal lobe neuropathology.

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