Connectivity and the corpus callosum in autism spectrum conditions: insights from comparison of autism and callosal agenesis

Prog Brain Res. 2011;189:303-17. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53884-0.00031-2.


Neural models of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have moved, in recent years, from a lesion model to a focus on abnormal connectivity. In this chapter, we review this work and summarize findings from our recent research comparing autism and agenesis of the corpus callosum (AgCC). We discuss our findings in the context of the "fractionable triad" account and highlight three main points. First, the social aspects of autism can be found in isolation, not accompanied by the nonsocial features of this disorder, supporting a view of autism as a "compound," rather than "monolithic," condition. Second, many young people with callosal agenesis show theory of mind- and emotion-processing deficits akin to those seen in autism. Diagnostic overshadowing may mean these people do not receive interventions that have proven beneficial in ASD. Last, study of AgCC shows that it is possible, in some cases, to develop good social cognitive skills in the absence of the corpus callosum, presenting a challenge to future connectivity models of autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agenesis of Corpus Callosum*
  • Aicardi Syndrome / pathology*
  • Aicardi Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology*
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Corpus Callosum / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Perception