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Am J Psychiatry. 1995 Feb;152(2):248-52.

Delayed maturation of the frontal cortex in childhood autism.

Author information

1
Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, Tours, France.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The authors investigated the metabolic maturation of the frontal cortex in pre-school autistic children.

METHOD:

Regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) in five children with primary autism diagnosed according to the DSM-III-R criteria was studied longitudinally. Regional CBF in each of the autistic children was measured with single photon emission computed tomography twice during their development: at the age of 3-4 years and 3 years later. At each stage, the autistic children were compared to an age-matched comparison group of five nonautistic children with normal development.

RESULTS:

A transient frontal hypoperfusion was found in the autistic children at ages 3-4 years; this corresponded to the pattern of perfusion observed in much younger normal children. By the ages of 6-7, the autistic children's frontal perfusion had attained normal values.

CONCLUSIONS:

Since CBF patterns in children are related to maturational changes in brain function, these results indicate a delayed frontal maturation in childhood autism. Such a delayed brain maturational process is consistent with the clinical data and cognitive performance of autistic children.

PMID:
7840359
DOI:
10.1176/ajp.152.2.248
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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