Brain Differences in Autistic Males with Early Language Delay
[Source: Medical News Today]
Language delay in early childhood can herald autism spectrum disorder. Now, a new study has discovered that such a language delay leaves a “signature” in the brain, through differences in brain volume.
The researchers, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, publish their findings in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
Lead author Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, of the Cambridge Autism Research Centre, says:
“Although people with autism share many features, they also have a number of key differences. Language development and ability is one major source of variation within autism. This new study will help us understand the substantial variety within the umbrella category of ‘autism spectrum.'”
To conduct their study, the research team studied 80 adult men with autism – 38 of whom had delayed language onset – who were part of the Medical Research Council Autism Imaging Multicentre Study (AIMS).
Delayed language onset occurs when a child’s first meaningful words come out after 24 months of age, or when their first phrase occurs after 33 months.
In the men who had delayed language onset, the researchers found that certain key regions of the brain had smaller volumes, including the temporal lobe, insula and ventral basal ganglia. Additionally, these men also had larger brainstem structures, compared with those who did not have delayed language onset.
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