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Brain Hemisphere Connectivity Differs for Males With Autism

Last Updated: October 14, 2010.

Researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have identified differences in the way the hemispheres of the brain communicate with each other in males with autism compared with normally developing males, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in Cerebral Cortex.

THURSDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have identified differences in the way the hemispheres of the brain communicate with each other in males with autism compared with normally developing males, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in Cerebral Cortex.

Jeffrey S. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues used fMRI to assess and compare resting state interhemispheric communications in a group of 92 subjects (ages 10 to 35 years), including males with high-functioning autism (n=53) and normally developing males (n=39). By comparing brain maps for the two groups, the researchers sought to identify areas where the left and right hemispheres of the brains of people with autism do not communicate normally, potentially affecting motor skills, attention, facial recognition, and social functioning.

Comparing the subjects with autism with normal subjects, the researchers found significantly reduced interhemispheric connectivity in regions governing functions affected by autism, including the sensorimotor cortex, anterior insula, fusiform gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, and superior parietal lobule.

"Our finding adds to growing evidence that abnormalities of interhemispheric connectivity in autism are widespread but regionally specific and related to cognitive and neurological impairments commonly found in the disorder," the authors write.

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