A clinicopathological study of autism

Brain. 1998 May;121 ( Pt 5):889-905. doi: 10.1093/brain/121.5.889.


A neuropathological study of autism was established and brain tissue examined from six mentally handicapped subjects with autism. Clinical and educational records were obtained and standardized diagnostic interviews conducted with the parents of cases not seen before death. Four of the six brains were megalencephalic, and areas of cortical abnormality were identified in four cases. There were also developmental abnormalities of the brainstem, particularly of the inferior olives. Purkinje cell number was reduced in all the adult cases, and this reduction was sometimes accompanied by gliosis. The findings do not support previous claims of localized neurodevelopmental abnormalities. They do point to the likely involvement of the cerebral cortex in autism.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology*
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Stem / abnormalities
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Count
  • Cerebral Cortex / abnormalities
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Purkinje Cells / pathology