Children With Autism Loose Neurons in the Brain as They Develop

by Anjali Aryamvally on  March 23, 2018 at 1:28 PM Research News
RSS Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+

Typically developing children gain more neurons in a region of the brain that governs social and emotional behavior, the amygdala, as they become adults. However, this phenomenon does not happen in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), shows study from the UC Davis MIND Institute. Children with ASD were found to have too many neurons early on and then appear to lose those neurons as they become adults. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Children With Autism Loose Neurons in the Brain as They Develop
Children With Autism Loose Neurons in the Brain as They Develop

The amygdala is a small almond-shaped group of 13 regions (nuclei) that work as a danger detector in the brain to regulate anxiety and social interactions. Amygdala dysfunction has been linked to many psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD, schizophrenia , bipolar disorder and depression .

"The amygdala is a unique brain structure in that it grows dramatically during adolescence, longer than other brain regions, as we become more socially and emotionally mature," said Cynthia Schumann, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis MIND Institute and senior author of the paper. "Any deviation from this normal path of development can profoundly influence human behavior." To understand what cellular factors underlie amygdala development, the team studied 52 postmortem human brains, both neurotypical and ASD, ranging from 2 to 48 years of age.

"We were surprised to find that the number of neurons in one of the amygdala regions increased by more than 30% from childhood to adulthood in typically-developing individuals," said Schumann.

The picture was quite different in people with ASD. There were more neurons in young children with ASD, but as they got older, those numbers went down.

"We don't know if having too many amygdala neurons early in development in ASD is related to the apparent loss later on," said Schumann. "It's possible that having too many neurons early on could contribute to anxiety and challenges with social interactions. However, with time, that constant activity could wear on the system and lead to neuron loss."

Schumann and her team believe that if they can explain how the cells are changing throughout adolescence in the amygdala, it might be possible to intervene and treat symptoms such as anxiety that develop in people with autism and other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders.



Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions

Related Links

More News on:

Autism Parkinsons Disease Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Height and Weight-Kids Brain Brain Facts Ataxia Rett Syndrome Acquired Epileptiform Aphasia Language Areas in The Brain 

News A - Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Find a Doctor

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store

News Category

News Archive

Loading...