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Scientists identify overgrowth of key brain structure in babies who later develop autism – University of Washington

Friday, 1 April, 2022

Scientists identify overgrowth of key brain structure in babies who later develop autism – University of Washington

The crosshairs in this photo focus on the amygdala. New research has found that this area of the brain grows too rapidly in the first year of life in babies who go on to develop autism. Dr. Stephen Dager/U. of Washington

 
The amygdala is a small structure deep in the brain important for interpreting the social and emotional meaning of sensory input – from recognizing emotion in faces to interpreting fearful images that inform us about potential dangers in our surroundings. Historically, the amygdala has been thought to play a prominent role in the difficulties with social behavior that are central to autism.
Researchers have long known the amygdala is significantly larger in school-age children diagnosed with autism, but it was unknown precisely when that enlargement occurs. Now, for the first time, researchers from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) Network, which includes the University of Washington, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to demonstrate that the amygdala grows too rapidly in infancy. Overgrowth begins between 6 and 12 months of age, before the characteristics of autism fully emerge, potentially enabling the earliest identification of this condition.
Read more at: https://www.washington.edu/news/2022/03/29/scientists-identify-overgrowth-of-key-brain-structure-in-babies-who-later-develop-autism/

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