- Chemical Changes in the Brain in Autism
Chemical Changes in the Brain in Autism
The cerebral gray matter (GM) chemical changes between 3 and 10 years of age appears to differentiate children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from those with idiopathic (from an unknown cause) developmental disorder (DD), suggests a study by Neva M Corrigan, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues.
The researchers examined cross-section and longitudinal patterns of brain chemical concentrations in children with ASD or DD from three different age points: 73 children (45 with ASD, 14 with DD, and 14 with typical development [TD]) at 3 to 4 years of age; 69 children (35 with ASD, 14 with DD, and 20 with TD) at 6 to 7 years of age; and 77 children (29 with ASD, 15 with DD, and 33 with TD) at 9 to 10 years of age.
There were distinct differences between the ASD and DD groups in the rates of cerebral gray matter N-acetylaspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), and creatine (Cr) changes between 3 and 10 years of age, according to the study results.
“The results from our study suggest that a dynamic brain developmental process underlies ASD, whereas the children with DD exhibited a different, more static developmental pattern of brain chemical changes,” the authors write. “The brain chemical alterations observed in the children with ASD at 3 to 4 years of age likely reflect a process that begins at an earlier stage of development.”
(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online July 31, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1388.
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