6. An Overabundance of Prefrontal Cortex Neurons Underlies Early Brain Overgrowth in Autism

  1. Peter R. Mouton PhD
  1. Eric Courchesne1,
  2. Peter R. Mouton2,
  3. Michael E. Calhoun1,
  4. Clelia Ahrens-Barbeau1,
  5. Melodie J. Hallet1,
  6. Cynthia Carter Barnes1,
  7. Karen Pierce1 and
  8. Katarina Semendeferi3

Published Online: 22 NOV 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118444177.ch6

Neurostereology: Unbiased Stereology of Neural Systems

Neurostereology: Unbiased Stereology of Neural Systems

How to Cite

Courchesne, E., Mouton, P. R., Calhoun, M. E., Ahrens-Barbeau, C., Hallet, M. J., Carter Barnes, C., Pierce, K. and Semendeferi, K. (2014) An Overabundance of Prefrontal Cortex Neurons Underlies Early Brain Overgrowth in Autism, in Neurostereology: Unbiased Stereology of Neural Systems (ed P. R. Mouton), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Ames, USA. doi: 10.1002/9781118444177.ch6

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Neuroscience, NIH-UCSD Autism Center of Excellence, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA

  2. 2

    Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Byrd Alzheimer's Disease Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

  3. 3

    Department of Anthropology, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 22 NOV 2013
  2. Published Print: 17 JAN 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118444214

Online ISBN: 9781118444177

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Keywords:

  • autism;
  • brain overgrowth;
  • computerized stereology;
  • prefrontal cortex neurons underlies

Summary

Autism is a developmental disorder involving early brain overgrowth. Overgrowth and dysfunction are strongly evident at young ages in prefrontal and temporal cortices. The authors use computerized stereology to examine the neural basis of early brain overgrowth in autism. They indicate that autism does involve a substantial overabundance of prefrontal neurons, and the greater the excess, the greater the overall deviant brain size. This chapter presents a study conducted on brains from n = 9 autistic and n = 7 control males, aged 2 to 16 years. Two major prefrontal divisions are analyzed: dorsolateral (DL-PFC) and mesial (M-PFC) prefrontal cortex. The findings point to a second critical neuropathological phenomenon in autism: excess neuron numbers in the brains of young males with autism appear to be removed across decades, unlike the normal brain in which naturally occurring apoptosis removes excess rapidly across just a few months of prenatal and perinatal life.