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Diane C. Chugani

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date: 15 July 2020

Neurotransmitters have been the focus of numerous studies aimed at understanding autism, beginning nearly fifty years ago when Schain and Freedman (1961) first reported elevated serotonin in the blood of autistic subjects. Serotonin still remains the neurotransmitter that has been most studied in autism. There is some evidence for alterations in many transmitters, including GABA, glutamate, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and opioid peptides. This chapter focuses on the evidence for two neurotransmitters for which there is the strongest link to autism, serotonin and GABA. For each of these neurotransmitters, the evidence for alterations in autism and the significance for altered neurotransmission on brain development and behavior are discussed.

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