Gyrification patterns in monozygotic twin pairs varying in discordance for autism

Authors

  • Wendy R. Kates,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, State University of New York at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    • SUNY Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse, NY 13210
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  • Ichiro Ikuta,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, State University of New York at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
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  • Courtney P. Burnette

    1. Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
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Abstract

In order to disentangle genetic and environmental contributions to cortical anomalies in children with autism, we investigated cortical folding patterns in a cohort of 14 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs who displayed a range of phenotypic discordance for autism, and 14 typically developing community controls. Cortical folding was assessed with the gyrification index, which was calculated on high resolution anatomic MR images. We found that the cortical folding patterns across most lobar regions of the cerebral cortex was highly discordant within MZ twin pairs. In addition, children with autism and their co-twins exhibited increased cortical folding in the right parietal lobe, relative to age- and gender-matched typical developing children. Increased folding in the right parietal lobe was associated with more symptoms of autism for co-twins. Finally, the robust association between cortical folding and IQ observed in typical children was not observed in either children with autism or their co-twins. These findings, which contribute to our understanding of the limits of genetic liability in autism, suggest that anomalies in the structural integrity of the cortex in this PDD may disrupt the association between cortical folding and intelligence that has been reported in typical individuals, and may account, in part, for the deficits in visual spatial attention and in social cognition that have been reported in children with autism.

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