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Abnormal Brain Connections Found In Children With Autism

The diagnostic criteria for autism may need to be expanded, according to a new study from San Diego State University.

— San Diego State University researchers may have uncovered another piece to the puzzle in understanding the complex condition known as autism. A new study reveals some previously unknown abnormalities in the brain.

Photo caption: Ralph-Axel Müller, Ph.D, is a professor and researched at San Diego State Uni...

Photo credit: San Diego State University

Ralph-Axel Müller, Ph.D, is a professor and researched at San Diego State University.

In the study, researchers used advanced imaging techniques to study the brains of more than 50 children. The team discovered that the connections between the thalamus and the cerebral cortex in children with autism aren't working properly.

The thalamus is a part of the brain that's crucial for sensory and motor functions. Those functions are often abnormal in children with autism.

Dr. Ralph-Axel Muller directed the research.

"Our study really is the first systematic study to look at both the anatomy and the functional cooperation between thalamus and cerebral cortex, and to find both of them impaired," he said.

Muller said disturbances in the development of the thalamus may play a role in the emergence of some of the symptoms of autism.

His research is published in the June issue of the journal, Brain.

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