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Autism as a Developmental Neurobiological Disorder: New Insights from Functional Neuroimaging 

Autism as a Developmental Neurobiological Disorder: New Insights from Functional Neuroimaging
Chapter:
Autism as a Developmental Neurobiological Disorder: New Insights from Functional Neuroimaging
Author(s):

Nancy J. Minshew

, K. Suzanne Scherf

, Marlene Behrmann

, and Katherine Humphreys

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195371826.003.0041
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date: 10 December 2017

This chapter calls for a paradigm shift in the study of autism in order to address the most pressing questions about how genetic and developmental neurobiological findings can be integrated with findings about the characterization of the behavioral syndrome. The chapter is organized as follows. First, it provides a brief review of the current “neurobehavioral” theories of autism. Second, it challenges these theories by reviewing current evidence, particularly from longitudinal studies of infants at high risk for developing autism, which challenges the notion of a single causative behavioral or cognitive feature of the syndrome or even a cluster of core causative behavioral or cognitive features. Third, it proposes that research on autism spectrum disorders would benefit from taking the perspective that autism is a developmental neurobiological disorder, rather than a behavioral or single systems disorder. Finally, it describes a program of research in the domain of visual processing that illustrates the strength of this interdisciplinary approach to uncover novel relations between the behavioral and brain bases of autism, and that supports the claim that disruptions to neural connectivity are a fundamental contributing factor to the etiology of autism.

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