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Neuroimaging in autism

  • Shoumitro Deb (a1) and Bill Thompson (a1)

Abstract

Background

Childhood autism is a developmental disorder with distinctive clinical features and characteristic cognitive deficits. Neuroimaging techniques have been extensively used in the study of autism and related disorders.

Method

Recent important literature reported on structural and functional neuroimaging in autism was reviewed and discussed in the context of other neurobiological research findings.

Results

Various abnormalities of brain structure and function have been proposed, but no focal defect has been reliably demonstrated. Important findings, so far, include increased brain volume, structural abnormality in frontal lobe and corpus callosum in a proportion of autistic individuals. Functional neuroimaging findings emphasised the imbalance in interregional and inter-hemispheric brain metabolism and blood flow as well as abnormality in the anterior cingulate gyrus.

Conclusion

The research to date has been hindered by methodological difficulties. However, hypothesis-driven research, particularly involving activation studies and neurotransmitter/neuroreceptor activities, using functional neuroimaging will be very useful in unravelling the enigma associated with this intriguing and distressing condition.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr S. Deb, Department of Psychological Medicine. University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff CF4 4XN. E-mail: deb@cardiff.ac.uk

References

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Neuroimaging in autism

  • Shoumitro Deb (a1) and Bill Thompson (a1)
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