Autism as an adaptive common variant pathway for human brain development

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2017 Jun;25:5-11. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.02.004. Epub 2017 Feb 9.


While research on focal perinatal lesions has provided evidence for recovery of function, much less is known about processes of brain adaptation resulting from mild but widespread disturbances to neural processing over the early years (such as alterations in synaptic efficiency). Rather than being viewed as a direct behavioral consequence of life-long neural dysfunction, I propose that autism is best viewed as the end result of engaging adaptive processes during a sensitive period. From this perspective, autism is not appropriately described as a disorder of neurodevelopment, but rather as an adaptive common variant pathway of human functional brain development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans