Brainstem, cerebellar and limbic neuroanatomical abnormalities in autism

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1997 Apr;7(2):269-78. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(97)80016-5.


Recent autopsy and/or quantitative magnetic resonance imaging studies of autistic patients have identified agenesis of the superior olive, dysgenesis of the facial nucleus, reduced numbers of Purkinje neurons, hypoplasia of the brainstem and posterior cerebellum, and increased neuron-packing density of the medial, cortical and central nuclei of the amygdala and the medial septum. As neurogenesis occurs for these different neuron types during approximately the fifth week of gestation, the possibility is raised that this may be a 'window of vulnerability' for autism; the likely etiologic heterogeneity of autism suggests that other windows of vulnerability are also possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / pathology*
  • Brain Stem / abnormalities*
  • Cerebellum / abnormalities*
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / abnormalities*