[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been the focus of a great deal of research and clinical speculation. This intense interest relates to both the perplexing pathogenesis and devastating consequences of these disorders. One of the obstacles to understanding the pathogenesis of autism and its efficient treatment has been the paucity of animal models that could be used for hypotheses-driven mechanistic studies of abnormal brain and behavior development and for the pre-clinical testing novel pharmacological treatments. The present review provides a detailed analysis of a new animal model of ASD. This model utilizes neonatal Borna disease virus (BDV) infection of the rat brain as a unique experimental teratogen to study the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental damage. For more than a decade, studies of the BDV animal model have yielded much insight into the pathogenic processes of abnormal brain development and resulting autistic-like behavioral abnormalities in rats. The most recent experiments demonstrate the utility of the BDV model for studying the pathophysiological mechanisms of the gene-environment interaction that determines differential disease outcomes and variability in responses to treatments.
Frontiers in Bioscience 04/2002; 7:d593-607. · 3.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies of head size and brain volume in autism spectrum disorders have suggested that early cortical overgrowth may be followed by prematurely arrested growth. However, the few investigations quantifying cortical thickness have yielded inconsistent results, probably due to variable ages and/or small sample sizes. We assessed differences in cortical thickness between high-functioning adolescent and young adult males with autism spectrum disorders (n = 41) and matched typically developing males (n = 40). We hypothesized thinner cortex, particularly in frontal, parietal and temporal regions, for individuals with autism spectrum disorders in comparison with typically developing controls. Furthermore, we expected to find an age × diagnosis interaction: with increasing age, more pronounced cortical thinning would be observed in autism spectrum disorders than typically developing participants. T(1)-weighted magnetization prepared rapid gradient echo 3 T magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired from high-functioning males with autism spectrum disorders and from typically developing males matched group-wise on age (range 12-24 years), intelligence quotient (≥ 85) and handedness. Both gyral-level and vertex-based analyses revealed significantly thinner cortex in the autism spectrum disorders group that was located predominantly in left temporal and parietal regions (i.e. the superior temporal sulcus, inferior temporal, postcentral/superior parietal and supramarginal gyri). These findings remained largely unchanged after controlling for intelligence quotient and after accounting for psychotropic medication usage and comorbid psychopathology. Furthermore, a significant age × diagnosis interaction was found in the left fusiform/inferior temporal cortex: participants with autism spectrum disorders had thinner cortex in this region with increasing age to a greater degree than did typically developing participants. Follow-up within group comparisons revealed significant age-related thinning in the autism spectrum disorders group but not in the typically developing group. Both thinner temporal and parietal cortices during adolescence and young adulthood and discrepantly accelerated age-related cortical thinning in autism spectrum disorders suggest that a second period of abnormal cortical growth (i.e. greater thinning) may be characteristic of these disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This project assessed dyspraxia in high-functioning school aged children with autism with a focus on Ideational Praxis. We examined the association of specific underlying motor function including eye movement with ideational dyspraxia (sequences of skilled movements) as well as the possible role of visual-motor integration in dyspraxia. We found that compared to IQ-, sex- and age-matched typically developing children, the children with autism performed significantly worse on: Ideational and Buccofacial praxis; a broad range of motor tests, including measures of simple motor skill, timing and accuracy of saccadic eye movements and motor coordination; and tests of visual-motor integration. Impairments in individual children with autism were heterogeneous in nature, although when we examined the praxis data as a function of a qualitative measure representing motor timing, we found that children with poor motor timing performed worse on all praxis categories and had slower and less accurate eye movements while those with regular timing performed as well as typical children on those same tasks. Our data provide evidence that both motor function and visual-motor integration contribute to dyspraxia. We suggest that dyspraxia in autism involves cerebellar mechanisms of movement control and the integration of these mechanisms with cortical networks implicated in praxis.
Behavioural brain research 04/2014; · 3.22 Impact Factor
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