SDSU researchers say the definition of autism may need to be expanded

SAN DIEGO -- 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.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 .