ANS51(4)125-139 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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Activitas Nervosa Superior 2009; 51 :4,125-139 125 A R EVIEW ON THE C OGNITIVE N EUROSCIENCE OF A UTISM Alain Koyama * Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Received September 18, 2009; accepted October 2, 2009 Abstract With increased recognition in the media, heightened prevalence, and advances in research technologies, investigation into the causes of autism has broadened in recent years. Studies at the molecular, structural, and behavioral levels have re- sulted in significant findings, linking autism to qualitative differences in neurological function and an alteration of early development. Familial aggregation of autism demonstrates a strong genetic factor, although genetics can not completely account for its pathogenesis. Studies show autism having one of the most complex pathologies among neurodevelopmen- tal disorders. Future studies applying sophisticated methodologies in new areas may shed light on current mysteries sur- rounding the disorder. Key words: Autism; Asperger’s syndrome; Developmental disorder; Neuroimaging; Anatomy INTRODUCTION Autism is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder, primarily encompassing difficulties in the social, lan- guage, and communicative domains. Diagnosis is usual- ly made within the first 2-3 years of life, from behavior such as lack of eye contact, joint attention, imitative behavior, and nonresponsiveness to speech. Other iden- tifiable features are similar to that of related conditions, such as repetitive behavior and inattention seen in ob- sessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit dis- order, respectively. Common secondary mood disorders including anxiety and depression are also seen. Recognition of autism by the general public as well as clinicians and researchers has increased in recent years. In addition to media attention, this has been largely due to increased prevalence, with reported rates as high as 6.6/1,000 ("Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders-- autism and developmental disabilities monitoring net- work, 14 sites, United States, 2002," 2007). Increased rates have been largely attributed to both heightened awareness of the condition as well as modifications to diagnostic criteria to define autism as a spectrum dis- order, with a wide range of individual functioning (Wing & Potter, 2002). On one end of the spectrum, individuals with low functioning autism (LFA) often are afflicted with severe behavioral difficulties, mental re- tardation and seizures, and require dependent care into adulthood. On the other end, individuals with high func- tioning autism (HFA) and its variants such as Asper- ger‟s syndrome (AS) have more subtle difficulties and sometimes can function independently. The majority of individuals diagnosed with autism are male, causing some to attribute the skewed ratio to genetic factors, or possibly to a more subtle autistic profile in females (At- twood, 1999). Since its recognition by Leo Kanner in 1943, etiological
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This note was uploaded on 03/08/2011 for the course CLNICAL PS 2010 taught by Professor Actnervsuper during the Spring '11 term at The Chicago School of Prof. Psychology.

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ANS51(4)125-139 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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