, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 751-764
Date: 16 Jan 2009

Reduced Gyral Window and Corpus Callosum Size in Autism: Possible Macroscopic Correlates of a Minicolumnopathy

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Abstract

Minicolumnar changes that generalize throughout a significant portion of the cortex have macroscopic structural correlates that may be visualized with modern structural neuroimaging techniques. In magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of fourteen autistic patients and 28 controls, the present study found macroscopic morphological correlates to recent neuropathological findings suggesting a minicolumnopathy in autism. Autistic patients manifested a significant reduction in the aperture for afferent/efferent cortical connections, i.e., gyral window. Furthermore, the size of the gyral window directly correlated to the size of the corpus callosum. A reduced gyral window constrains the possible size of projection fibers and biases connectivity towards shorter corticocortical fibers at the expense of longer association/commisural fibers. The findings may help explain abnormalities in motor skill development, differences in postnatal brain growth, and the regression of acquired functions observed in some autistic patients.

Dr. Mannheim is affiliated with the Food and Drug Administration; however, this article was written in his private capacity. No official support or endorsement by the Food and Drug Administration is intended or should be inferred.
This work was written as part of Judith Rumsey’s and Jay Giedd’s official duties as Government employees. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the United States Government.