Laura Lynn Gonzalez / Dynamoid
If the brain were a house with many rooms, you wouldn’t find autism in just one of them. Autism has many causes and many forms. But no matter which form it takes, it seems to touch the entire brain. It permeates and perturbs the beams, foundation, wiring and piping of the house, rather than just, say, the kitchen.
Still, autism does have local effects: Different regions of the brain contribute uniquely to autism’s impact on cognition, emotion and behavior.
In this special report, we detail the regional consequences of autism, one brain area at a time. Studies of the hippocampus, for example, may help explain the uneven effects of autism on memory. Investigations of the superior temporal sulcus may provide a window into the impact of autism on social perception.
The report is ongoing. Over time, our reporters will step into the various rooms of the brain to probe autism’s effect on those regions.
A brain region that orchestrates responses to social cues and aids decision-making may be off tempo in autism.
Decoding distortions in the brain’s largest nerve tract could lay bare basic problems with long-range neural connections in autism.
The brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, may provide clues to features of autism as disparate as personal relationships and decision-making.
Researchers are homing in on the superior temporal sulcus, a groove in the brain that collects social information, as a key player in autism.
Results from four studies published in the past year point to a role for the cerebellum in autism-related behaviors.
Lower activity in a key face processing region of the brain hints that people with autism could benefit from training to become ‘face experts.’