The neuroanatomy of autism: a voxel-based whole brain analysis of structural scans


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Abstract

AUTISM is a biological disorder which affects social cognition, and understanding brain abnormalities of the former will elucidate the brain basis of the latter. We report structural MRI data on 15 high-functioning individuals with autistic disorder. A voxel-based whole brain analysis identified grey matter differences in an amygdala centered system relative to 15 age- and IQ-matched controls. Decreases of grey matter were found in anterior parts of this system (right paracingulate sulcus, left inferior frontal gyrus). Increases were found in posterior parts (amygdala/peri-amygdaloid cortex, middle temporal gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus), and in regions of the cerebellum. These structures are implicated in social cognition by animal, imaging and histopathological studies. This study therefore provides converging evidence of the physiological basis of social cognition.

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