Autism spectrum disorders: developmental disconnection syndromes

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2007 Feb;17(1):103-11. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2007.01.009. Epub 2007 Feb 1.


Autism is a common and heterogeneous childhood neurodevelopmental disorder. Analogous to broad syndromes such as mental retardation, autism has many etiologies and should be considered not as a single disorder but, rather, as 'the autisms'. However, recent genetic findings, coupled with emerging anatomical and functional imaging studies, suggest a potential unifying model in which higher-order association areas of the brain that normally connect to the frontal lobe are partially disconnected during development. This concept of developmental disconnection can accommodate the specific neurobehavioral features that are observed in autism, their emergence during development, and the heterogeneity of autism etiology, behaviors and cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / genetics
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Developmental Disabilities / genetics
  • Developmental Disabilities / pathology
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development*
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology*