Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is behavioral and social communication impairment. It is a broad-based neurodevelopment or brain-based disorder that is the result of genetic events that occur prior to birth with widespread effects on cognitive and socio-emotional development (Geschwind, 2009).
Scientist’s aren’t certain about what causes autism, but it’s generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function, genetics/heredity, or environmental factors. Studies have found several irregularities in many regions of the brain, and abnormal levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) autism can result
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The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) Autism Genome Project have discovered irregularities in the corpus callosum (which affects communication between the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere of the brain), the cerebellum (which affects coordination, balance, and motor activity), and an enlarged amygdala. The amygdala plays an important role in emotion and social behavior by linking perceptual representations to cognition and behavior on the basis of the emotional or social value of the stimuli (Baron-Cohen, et, al, 2000). Recent evidence suggests that people with autism have abnormalities in the amygdala. This accounts for their inability to recognize fearful situations. Scientists at the NAAR have also discovered imbalances in the serotonin (which plays a role in behavior and emotions), and the glutamate (which consists of neuron activity). Synaptic connections between neurons are believed to be altered in the autistic brain. There may be too many or too few, too strong or too weak, or the synapses may even occur in the wrong place. This balance between excitatory and inhibitory synapses could be abnormal for establishing critical periods. All these differences in the brain can explain autistic behaviors.
There are several behaviors and mental