Recent advances in neuroimaging in autism

Author(s): Jamie Horder, Declan G Murphy

Autism is a neurodevelopmental syndrome characterized by impairments in three domains of behavior: social interaction, social communication and repetitive behaviors. Early neuroimaging investigations of autism examined gross brain structure and metabolism. These studies revealed some abnormalities, for example, in overall brain size, but these were typically of small magnitude, or only seen in a minority of cases. However, the introduction of new neuroimaging and statistical techniques has led to many recent advances in this field. Functional MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy have shed light on the function and neurochemistry of the brain in autism. Advanced approaches to data analysis have recently shown great promise in picking up complex structural and functional differences. Conceptual shifts in the understanding of autism have begun to be reflected in the neuroimaging literature, and upcoming advances in positron emission tomography should help elucidate the molecular basis of autism. This update is intended to provide a concise and accessible overview of the latest work in this area and to outline promising avenues for the future.


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