Amygdala Dysfunction in Autism
Professor David Skuse discusses research that highlights the amygdala as a brain structure that may be impaired in autism.
We have a collection of nuclei in the brain towards the base of the brain, itâ€™s on both sides called the amygdala, well in fact there are two amygdalae. These are very important for our emotional responsiveness to the world around us. It is the amygdalae that alert us to events that might be a danger - in other words, they monitor threat. It would appear that in autism the amygdala is not sending signals to the higher brain centers in the same way it does in people who donâ€™t have autism. This isnâ€™t an either-or thing, as I said, autism is just an extreme of a dimension of behavior that we see in the general population. But it would appear that for the people with autism, the amygdala really isnâ€™t sending signals in the same way. Maybe not sending any signals, it may be sending threat signals when none exist. But that, what we call amygdala cortical conductivity is not functioning as it normally does in most other people. So, the amygdala would appear to be playing a critical role in making one susceptible to some of the symptoms of autism.
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Autism is not associated with any single deficit in the brain.
Abnormal activity in specific brain regions has been associated with autism spectrum disorders.
The amygdala is a complex structure adjacent to the hippocampus. The amygdala is involved in processing emotions, and fear–learning.
Professor David Skuse explains that symptoms of autism are not precisely distinct from 'normal' behavior.
Professor David Skuse explains that it is highly probable that many different genes cause autism, with each gene contributing a small part to the symptomatology.
Professor David Skuse explains that the language and social difficulties associated with autism correlate more closely than repetitive behavior symptoms.
Professor Wayne Drevets outlines the amygdala's importance to the neurobiology of depression. He concludes that stimulation of the amygdala can elicit depression-like emotional experiences.
An overview of autism-related content on Genes to Cognition Online.
Professor David Skuse explains that autism is more common in boys than girls.