Autism: its primary psychological and neurological deficit

Can J Psychiatry. 1991 Nov;36(9):686-92. doi: 10.1177/070674379103600913.


Autism is a perplexing condition because of its unique presenting signs and high degree of variability. Evidence is presented that the basic underlying information processing disorder is a dysfunction of the appreciation of the emotional significance of incoming stimuli and attaching motivational value to the stimuli. It is proposed that this dysfunction occurs when the amygdaloid nucleus and/or its connections are disrupted, resulting in the variability of the presentation of this syndrome among individuals. Herpes simplex encephalitis sometimes results in signs of autism. The virus has a predilection to attack specific areas of the brain, which provides information on the probable underlying neurological dysfunction in autism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / diagnosis
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / psychology*
  • Personality Development
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Perception