What is new in autism?

Isabelle Rapin, Roberto F. Tuchman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Autism is now recognized in one out of 150 children. This review highlights the topics within the growing autism literature that are shaping current thinking on autism and advancing research and clinical understanding of autism spectrum disorders. RECENT FINDINGS: The role of single-stranded microdeletions and epigenetic influences on brain development has dramatically altered our understanding of the etiology of the autisms. Recent research has focused on the role of synapse structure and function as central to the development of autism and suggests possible targets of interventions. Brain underconnectivity has been a focus in recent imaging studies and has become a central theme in conceptualizing autism. Despite increased awareness of autism there is no 'epidemic' and no one cause for autism. Data from the sibling studies are identifying early markers of autism and defining the broader autism phenotype. SUMMARY: Larger datasets in genetics, a focus on the early signs of autism, and increased recognition of the importance of defining subgroups of children with autism are leading to a greater understanding of the etiologies of autism. A growing interest in defining the molecular biology of social cognition, which is at the core of autism, will lead to expansion of our presently limited choices of mechanistically based interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Brain imaging
  • Electrophysiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Sensorimotor deficits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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