Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Abnormalities Associated With Social Orienting Ability Found In Toddlers With Autism, According To Imaging Study

Date:
May 7, 2009
Source:
JAMA and Archives Journals
Summary:
Toddlers with autism appear more likely to have an enlarged amygdala, a brain area associated with numerous functions, including the processing of faces and emotion, according to a new article. In addition, this brain abnormality appears to be associated with the ability to share attention with others, a fundamental ability thought to predict later social and language function in children with autism.

Toddlers with autism appear more likely to have an enlarged amygdala, a brain area associated with numerous functions, including the processing of faces and emotion, according to a new report. In addition, this brain abnormality appears to be associated with the ability to share attention with others, a fundamental ability thought to predict later social and language function in children with autism.

"Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder likely involving multiple brain systems," the authors write as background information in the article. "Converging evidence from magnetic resonance imaging, head circumference and postmortem studies suggests that brain volume enlargement is a characteristic feature of autism, with its onset most likely occurring in the latter part of the first year of life." Based both on its function and studies of changes in its structure, the amygdala has been identified as a brain area potentially associated with autism.

Matthew W. Mosconi, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a magnetic resonance imaging study involving 50 autistic children and 33 control children. Participating children underwent brain scans along with testing of certain behavioral features of autism at ages 2 and 4. This included a measure of joint attention, which involves following another person's gaze to initiate a shared experience.

Compared to control children, those children with autism were more likely to have amygdala enlargement both at age 2 and age 4. "These findings suggest that, consistent with a previous report of head circumference growth rates in autism and studies of amygdala volume in childhood, amygdala growth trajectories are accelerated before age 2 years in autism and remain enlarged during early childhood," the authors write. "Moreover, amygdala enlargement in 2-year-old children with autism is disproportionate to overall brain enlargement and remains disproportionate at age 4 years."

Among children with autism, amygdala volume was associated with an increase in joint attention ability at age 4. This suggests that alterations to this brain structure may be associated with a core deficit of autism, the authors note.

"The amygdala plays a critical role in early-stage processing of facial expression and in alerting cortical areas to the emotional significance of an event," the authors write. "Amygdala disturbances early in development, therefore, disrupt the appropriate assignment of emotional significance to faces and social interaction." Continued follow-up of research participants, now under way, will help determine whether amygdala growth rates continue at the same rate or undergo another period of accelerated growth or a period of decelerated growth in autistic children after age 4.

This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mosconi et al. Longitudinal Study of Amygdala Volume and Joint Attention in 2- to 4-Year-Old Children With Autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2009; 66 (5): 509 DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.19

Cite This Page:

JAMA and Archives Journals. "Brain Abnormalities Associated With Social Orienting Ability Found In Toddlers With Autism, According To Imaging Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504161627.htm>.
JAMA and Archives Journals. (2009, May 7). Brain Abnormalities Associated With Social Orienting Ability Found In Toddlers With Autism, According To Imaging Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504161627.htm
JAMA and Archives Journals. "Brain Abnormalities Associated With Social Orienting Ability Found In Toddlers With Autism, According To Imaging Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504161627.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins