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Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence- Autism (5).docx

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Richard B Day

October 10 , 2012 Psych 2AP3: Abnormal Psychology – Major Disorders Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence: Autism (5) Structural/Functional Abnormalities - Cause or effects - language areas:  reduced activity between areas during language processing  coordination or activity between broca - amygdala  fewer cells – fewer dendritic connections  no influence on PFC during face perception - cerebellum:  fewer cells – fewer dendritic connections  abnormalities may be prenatal  motor activity and autistic symptoms - many of the studies were done as autopsies, bias sample - prefrontal cortex:  fewer cells – fewer dendritic connections: newer research shows to many connections in prefrontal cortex  lower blood flow and task-related activity - temporal lobe & FFA:  fewer cells  abnormal FFA activity in face perception, object processing occurs instead - mirror neurons:  only fire for own activity, not for others  but recent (2010) studies find normal mirror neuron activity in autism  we don’t think there is any significant difference, maybe a subset of individuals with autism who display these abnormalities - reduced corpus callosum size - high rate (~33%) of seizure activity  more frequent in females  cutting corpus callosum  neuron transport is different in these individuals - EEG abnormalities in 50% - Brain volume, ventricle volume larger  Mostly in infancy and early childhood - head circumference larger  seems to be happening after birth - excessive connections in frontal cortex; too few with rest of brain  enhanced short range connectivity  reduced long range connectivity between prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain  intense world theory - early neuronal overgrowth, reduced pruning? Neurochemistry - interest in dopaminergic systems:  role of dopamine in movement problems  dopamine-blocking agents in treatment - serotonin:  elevated blood levels in 33% of autism patients  synthesis normally down by age 5; in autism, rises
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