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Regional differences in grey and white matter in children and adults with autism spectrum disorders: an activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analysis

Authors

  • Emma G. Duerden,

    Corresponding author
    1. Autism Research Unit, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
    • Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1X8
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  • Kathleen M. Mak-Fan,

    1. Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
    2. University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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  • Margot J. Taylor,

    1. Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
    2. University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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  • S. Wendy Roberts

    1. Autism Research Unit, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre, Toronto, Canada
    3. University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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Abstract

Structural alterations in brain morphology have been inconsistently reported in children compared to adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We assessed these differences by performing meta-analysis on the data from 19 voxel-based morphometry studies. Common findings across the age groups were grey matter reduction in left putamen and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and grey matter increases in the lateral PFC, while white matter decreases were seen mainly in the children in frontostriatal pathways. In the ASD sample, children/adolescents were more likely than adults to have increased grey matter in bilateral fusiform gyrus, right cingulate and insula. Results show that clear maturational differences exist in social cognition and limbic processing regions only in children/adolescents and not in adults with ASD, and may underlie the emotional regulation that improves with age in this population. Autism Res2012,5:49–66. © 2011 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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