Autism is a neurobiological disorder that is diagnosed through careful behavioral assessment in early childhood. In this paper, we review recent studies that have attempted to reveal the underlying causes of autism using a variety of techniques. Particular emphasis is placed on techniques that have been used by a number of different laboratories, including structural magnetic resonance imaging and postmortem studies of neuroanatomy. Neurobiological and neuropsychological data from individuals across a wide age range are examined from a neurodevelopmental perspective. We discuss how these recent advances have led us to develop a growth dysregulation hypothesis of autism. Finally, we discuss how this hypothesis may lead to new innovations in autism research.
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