White matter and development in children with an autism spectrum disorder

Kathleen M Mak-Fan, Drew Morris, Julie Vidal, Evdokia Anagnostou, Wendy Roberts, Margot J Taylor
Autism: the International Journal of Research and Practice 2013, 17 (5): 541-57
Recent research suggests that brain development follows an abnormal trajectory in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The current study examined changes in diffusivity with age within defined white matter tracts in a group of typically developing children and a group of children with an ASD, aged 6 to 14 years. Age by group interactions were observed for frontal, long distant, interhemispheric and posterior tracts, for longitudinal, radial and mean diffusivity, but not for fractional anisotropy. In all cases, these measures of diffusivity decreased with age in the typically developing group, but showed little or no change in the ASD group. This supports the hypothesis of an abnormal developmental trajectory of white matter in this population, which could have profound effects on the development of neural connectivity and contribute to atypical cognitive development in children with ASD.

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