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Autism Res. 2013 Apr;6(2):78-90. doi: 10.1002/aur.1265. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Longitudinal Heschl's gyrus growth during childhood and adolescence in typical development and autism.

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Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.


Heightened auditory sensitivity and atypical auditory processing are common in autism. Functional studies suggest abnormal neural response and hemispheric activation to auditory stimuli, yet the neurodevelopment underlying atypical auditory function in autism is unknown. In this study, we model longitudinal volumetric growth of Heschl's gyrus gray matter and white matter during childhood and adolescence in 40 individuals with autism and 17 typically developing participants. Up to three time points of magnetic resonance imaging data, collected on average every 2.5 years, were examined from individuals 3-12 years of age at the time of their first scan. Consistent with previous cross-sectional studies, no group differences were found in Heschl's gyrus gray matter volume or asymmetry. However, reduced longitudinal gray matter volumetric growth was found in the right Heschl's gyrus in autism. Reduced longitudinal white matter growth in the left hemisphere was found in the right-handed autism participants. Atypical Heschl's gyrus white matter volumetric growth was found bilaterally in the autism individuals with a history of delayed onset of spoken language. Heightened auditory sensitivity, obtained from the Sensory Profile, was associated with reduced volumetric gray matter growth in the right hemisphere. Our longitudinal analyses revealed dynamic gray and white matter changes in Heschl's gyrus throughout childhood and adolescence in both typical development and autism.


Heschl's gyrus; MRI; autism; longitudinal development

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