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Cognitive and Neural Correlates of Language in Autism 

Cognitive and Neural Correlates of Language in Autism
Cognitive and Neural Correlates of Language in Autism

Wouter B. Groen

and Jan K. Buitelaar

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date: 15 July 2020

This chapter discusses recent evidence from structural, electrophysiological, and functional studies on the neural correlates of linguistic abnormalities in autism. It begins with some background on the current views of the typical cognitive architecture underlying language production and comprehension, and discusses the anatomy of language and the development of language in typically developing children. It then argues that the linguistic features in autism cover a wider range of impairments than described in the DSM-IV criteria for autistic disorder and are more linked to the neural architecture in autism than earlier behavioral studies have suggested. Functional brain-imaging data show aberrant neural activation in semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic tasks of higher-order language functions, as well as in low-level sensory processes. Furthermore, it is argued that the abnormalities of low-level sensory processing of linguistic stimuli can be interpreted in the light of connectivity models in autism. Finally, the chapter discusses the relationship between language impairments and the other functional impairments in autism (social interaction and stereotyped and rigid behavior patterns), as well as the relationship between autism and specific language impairment.

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