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Abnormal Neuroanatomy in a Nonretarded Person With Autism:  Unusual Findings With Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Eric Courchesne, PhD; John R. Hesselink, MD; Terry L. Jernigan, PhD; Rachel Yeung-Courchesne
Arch Neurol. 1987;44(3):335-341. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520150073028.
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• Recent studies of infantile autism using computed tomographic scanning emphasized the importance of studying cases of classic autism (Kanner's syndrome) without complicating conditions such as mental retardation. Computed tomographic scan studies of such patients reported no evidence of anatomical abnormalities of cerebral hemi-spheres or of subcortical structures, which are defined by landmarks such as the lateral ventricles and lentiform nuclei. Examination of the cerebellum was not mentioned. The most recent postmortem neuropathologic study reported significant cerebellar abnormality, but the study was of a severely retarded autistic individual. Using magnetic resonance imaging, we have found in vivo evidence of a significant and unusual cerebellar malformation in a person with the classic form of autism uncomplicated by mental retardation (current nonverbal IQ = 112), epilepsy, history of drug use, postnatal trauma, or disease. The finding showed hypoplasia of the declive, folium, and tuber in posterior vermis, but not of the anterior vermis, and hypoplasia of only the medial aspect of each cerebellar hemisphere. The right posterior cerebral hemisphere also showed pathologic findings.

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