• autism;
  • columns;
  • frontal cortex

Cell minicolumns were shown to be narrower in frontal regions in brains of autistic patients compared with controls. This was not found in primary visual cortex. Within the frontal cortex, dorsal and orbital regions displayed the greatest differences while the mesial region showed the least change. We also found that minicolumns in the brain of a 3-year-old autistic child were indistinguishable from those of the autistic adult in two of three frontal regions, in contrast to the control brains. This may have been due to the small size of the columns in the adult autistic brain rather than to an accelerated development. The presence of narrower minicolumns supports the theory that there is an abnormal increase in the number of ontogenetic column units produced in some regions of the autistic brain during corticoneurogenesis.