Amygdala and hippocampus enlargement during adolescence in autism.
ABSTRACT The amygdala and hippocampus are key components of the neural system mediating emotion perception and regulation and are thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of autism. Although some studies in children with autism suggest that there is an enlargement of amygdala and hippocampal volume, findings in adolescence are sparse.
We measured amygdala and hippocampus volume in a homogeneous group of adolescents with autism (12 through 18 years; n = 23) and compared them with an age-, sex-, and IQ-matched control group (n = 29) using a validated automated segmentation procedure in 1.5-T magnetic resonance images. All analyses were adjusted for total brain volume.
Repeated-measures analysis revealed a significant group x hemisphere x brain structure interaction (p = .038), even when corrected for total brain volume. Post-hoc analysis showed that the right amygdala and left hippocampus were significantly enlarged (p = .010; p = .015) in the autism compared with the control group. There were no significant correlations between age and amygdala or hippocampus volume.
The abnormal enlargement of the amygdala and hippocampus in adolescents with autism adds to previous findings of enlargement of these structures in children with autism. This may reflect increased activity of these structures and thereby altered emotion perception and regulation. Our results could therefore be interpreted in light of developmental adaptation of the autistic brain to a continuous overflow of emotional learning experiences.
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ABSTRACT: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a clinically diagnosed, heterogeneous, neurodevelopmental condition, whose underlying causes have yet to be fully determined. A variety of studies have investigated either cortical, subcortical, or cerebellar anatomy in ASD, but none have conducted a complete examination of all neuroanatomical parameters on a single, large cohort. The current study provides a comprehensive examination of brain development of children with ASD between the ages of 4 and 18 years who are carefully matched for age and sex with typically developing controls at a ratio of one-to-two. Two hundred and ten magnetic resonance images were examined from 138 Control (116 males and 22 females) and 72 participants with ASD (61 males and 11 females). Cortical segmentation into 78 brain-regions and 81,924 vertices was conducted with CIVET which facilitated a region-of-interest- (ROI-) and vertex-based analysis, respectively. Volumes for the cerebellum, hippocampus, striatum, pallidum, and thalamus and many associated sub regions were derived using the MAGeT Brain algorithm. The study reveals cortical, sub-cortical and cerebellar differences between ASD and Control group participants. Diagnosis, diagnosis-by-age, and diagnosis-by-sex interaction effects were found to significantly impact total brain volume but not total surface area or mean cortical thickness of the ASD participants. Localized (vertex-based) analysis of cortical thickness revealed no significant group differences, even when age, age-range, and sex were used as covariates. Nonetheless, the region-based cortical thickness analysis did reveal regional changes in the left orbitofrontal cortex and left posterior cingulate gyrus, both of which showed reduced age-related cortical thinning in ASD. Our finding of region-based differences without significant vertex-based results likely indicates non-focal effects spanning the entirety of these regions. The hippocampi, thalamus, and globus pallidus, were smaller in volume relative to total cerebrum in the ASD participants. Various sub-structures showed an interaction of diagnosis-by-age, diagnosis-by-sex, and diagnosis-by-age-range, in the case where age was divided into childhood (age < 12) and adolescence (12 < age < 18). This is the most comprehensive imaging-based neuro-anatomical paediatric and adolescent ASD study to date. These data highlight the neurodevelopmental differences between typically developing children and those with ASD, and support aspects of the hypothesis of abnormal neuro-developmental trajectory of the brain in ASD.04/2015; 8. DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2015.04.008
Article: Anatomical Abnormalities in Autism?[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Substantial controversy exists regarding the presence and significance of anatomical abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The release of the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (∼1000 participants, age 6-65 years) offers an unprecedented opportunity to conduct large-scale comparisons of anatomical MRI scans across groups and to resolve many of the outstanding questions. Comprehensive univariate analyses using volumetric, thickness, and surface area measures of over 180 anatomically defined brain areas, revealed significantly larger ventricular volumes, smaller corpus callosum volume (central segment only), and several cortical areas with increased thickness in the ASD group. Previously reported anatomical abnormalities in ASD including larger intracranial volumes, smaller cerebellar volumes, and larger amygdala volumes were not substantiated by the current study. In addition, multivariate classification analyses yielded modest decoding accuracies of individuals' group identity (<60%), suggesting that the examined anatomical measures are of limited diagnostic utility for ASD. While anatomical abnormalities may be present in distinct subgroups of ASD individuals, the current findings show that many previously reported anatomical measures are likely to be of low clinical and scientific significance for understanding ASD neuropathology as a whole in individuals 6-35 years old.Cerebral Cortex 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhu242 · 8.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The social-cognitive deficits associated with several neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders have been linked to structural and functional brain anomalies. Given the recent appreciation for quantitative approaches to behavior, in this study we examined the brain-behavior links in social cognition in healthy young adults from a quantitative approach. Twenty-two participants were administered quantitative measures of social cognition, including the social responsiveness scale (SRS), the empathizing questionnaire (EQ) and the systemizing questionnaire (SQ). Participants underwent a structural, 3-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure that yielded both volumetric (voxel count) and asymmetry indices. Model fitting with backward elimination revealed that a combination of cortical, limbic and striatal regions accounted for significant variance in social behavior and cognitive styles that are typically associated with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Specifically, as caudate and amygdala volumes deviate from the typical R > L asymmetry, and cortical gray matter becomes more R > L asymmetrical, overall SRS and Emotion Recognition scores increase. Social Avoidance was explained by a combination of cortical gray matter, pallidum (rightward asymmetry) and caudate (deviation from rightward asymmetry). Rightward asymmetry of the pallidum was the sole predictor of Interpersonal Relationships and Repetitive Mannerisms. Increased D-scores on the EQ-SQ, an indication of greater systemizing relative to empathizing, was also explained by deviation from the typical R > L asymmetry of the caudate.These findings extend the brain-behavior links observed in neurodevelopmental disorders to the normal distribution of traits in a healthy sample.Brain Imaging and Behavior 05/2014; 9(2). DOI:10.1007/s11682-014-9304-1 · 3.39 Impact Factor