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Neuron Count Increased in Autism

By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on November 21, 2011


Overview: Researchers at the University of California, San Diego reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association that children with autism have a greater number of neurons in an area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex.


Background: The prefrontal cortex, which is thought to moderate social behavior among other cognitive tasks, is fully developed before birth. The researchers examined postmortem prefrontal brain tissue from 7 autistic and 6 control male children who were 2 to 16 years old.


What’s new: Children with autism have 67% more neurons in the prefrontal cortex as compared to the prefrontal cortex of control children.


Why it’s important: The researchers findings suggest that the biological underpinnings of at least some forms of autism may have their foundations in utero.


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