Neuroanatomical correlates of autism spectrum disorders: A meta-analysis of structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2022 Sep:325:111516. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2022.111516. Epub 2022 Jul 20.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders correlated to various neuroanatomical modifications. We aimed to identify neuroanatomical changes assessed in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through Activation Likelihood Estimate (ALE) meta-analysis. We included 19 peer-reviewed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies that analyzed cortical volume in patients with ASD compared to healthy control subjects (HCs). The between-group analyses comparing subjects with ASD to HCs showed a volumetric reduction of a large cluster in the right brain, including the uncus/amygdala, parahippocampal gyrus, and entorhinal cortex, and putamen. The anomalies are primarily found in the right hemisphere, involved in social cognitive function, particularly impaired in ASD. These results correlate with several clinical aspects of ASD. These volumetric alterations can be considered a major correlate of disease in the context of multifactorial etiology. Further studies on brain lateralization in ASD are needed, considering the clinical phenotype variability of these disorders.

Keywords: Amygdala; Autism spectrum disorders; Entorhinal cortex; Magnetic resonance imaging; Morphometry; Parahippocampal gyrus; Putamen.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods