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Autistic Children Have More Gray Matter in Brains
Date:11/28/2007

clear. There is no evidence that would support imaging as a diagnostic tool."

Further, he cautioned that the new study had a very small number of high-functioning participants, so conclusions about brain abnormalities cannot be generalized to all people with autism.

Another expert lauded the new findings.

Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, called the new research "a landmark anatomical study which lends support to the increasing evidence that mirror neurons are an underlying cause of autism." He said the finding of excess gray matter suggests that one of the issues with the autistic brain may be a matter of malfunctioning connections between neurons, rather than the neurons themselves.

Ramachandran and his colleagues published work earlier this year in the journal Cognitive Brain Research that suggested that autistic children have a faulty mirror neuron system.

In February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics indicating that one in every 150 American 8-year-olds has autism spectrum disorders. A decade ago, estimates ranged anywhere from one in 500 youngsters to one in 166.

But those new statistics -- from a 14-state survey conducted by the CDC -- failed to clear up the mystery of why autism might be striking more and more children with each passing year.

More information

To learn more about autism, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.



SOURCES: Manzar Ashtari, Ph.D., senior neuroscientist at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia; Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla; Stewart H
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