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Recent developments in neuropathology of autism spectrum disorders

1Croatian Institute for Brain Research, University of Zagreb Medical School, Zagreb, Croatia

2Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Speech and Language Pathology, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

3Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA

© 2011 Versita Warsaw. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Citation Information: Translational Neuroscience. Volume 2, Issue 3, Pages 256–264, ISSN (Online) 2081-6936, ISSN (Print) 2081-3856, DOI: 10.2478/s13380-011-0024-3, September 2011

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Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) represent complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interactions, abnormal development and use of language, and monotonously repetitive behaviors. With an estimated heritability of more than 90%, it is the most strongly genetically influenced psychiatric disorder of the young age. In spite of the complexity of this disorder, there has recently been much progress in the research on etiology, early diagnosing, and therapy of autism. Besides already advanced neuropathologic research, several new technological innovations, such as sleep functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging (1H-MRS) divulged promising breakthroughs in exploring subtle morphological and neurochemical changes in the autistic brain. This review provides a comprehensive summary of morphological and neurochemical alterations in autism known to date, as well as a short introduction to the functional research that has begun to advance in the last decade. Finally, we mention the progress in establishing new standardized diagnostic measures and its importance in early recognition and treatment of ASD.

Keywords: Autism; Autism spectrum disorder

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