primary site for the integration and modulation of sensory and motor activity
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The Cerebellum shows a reduction in size with autism
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serves to connect the cerebellum with the cerebrum in order to regulate automatic movement
Cerebellar maintenance of posture, balance, motor dexterity and coordination of movement is impaired in some individuals with Autistic Disorder
The caudate nucleus in children with autism is enlarged. Increased size of the caudate nucleus in the basal ganglia has been associated with compulsive behaviors, difficulty with changes in routine, and stereotypical motor movements
Enlarged caudate nucleus within the basal ganglia. Increased size of the caudate nucleus in the basal ganglia has been associated with compulsive behaviors, difficulty with changes in routine, and stereotypical motor movements
The thalamus is a main relay center for the nervous system, channeling information to and from the motor cortex
The amygdala is associated with arousing us and helping us to determine threatening situationsThe response when activated, is emotional.
Autistics, who are hyper-responsive to sensory input, are thought to be dominated by their sympathetic nervous system. This results in frequent flight or fight reactions. So- even though this system is designed to increase our readiness to respond, it can also result in persistent stress responses for the individual who is dominated by this system
The amygdala is enlarged in some children with autism. The amygdala is activated in children with autism when in social situations and when looking directly at faces but is not activated sufficiently in the parietal or frontal lobes where paying attention to faces is normally processed.
The conclusion therefore seems to be that here are neurological reasons for lack of eye contact in individuals with autism.
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The motor cortex - is contained in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex. It contains the motor homunculus which controls motor function, and is where the tracts for voluntary muscle control originate
The frontal lobes in some children with autism are larger due to an increased number of axons within them. But despite this increase in the number of axons within the frontal lobes, the connections between them and the parietal (sensory) lobes, and between both of these areas with the thalamus, (a major relay station of the brain), are disrupted due to the excessive local connections vs. the distant connections.
A study by Courchese et al. (1993) showed some volume loss in the parietal lobes of individuals with autism.
The somatosensory cortex- which is the ultimate destination for sensory input is located in the parietal lobe. It contains the sensory homunculus which represents and interprets the sensory information that is received by the various body parts.
There is an increase in the transmission time of incoming information into the brainstems of children with autism. The brainstems of the children with autism that they studied were smaller.
The brainstem is one of the first relay stations for transmitting sensory messages up to higher areas of the brain It is where basic integration of information begins.
The Corpus Callusum is smaller in children with autism and the neuronal activity that occurs between the two hemispheres of the brain is erratic and poorly connected. Because the corpus callosum links the left and right sides of the brain, there are a number of implications for this abnormality in size and function, including language development, the development of a dominance, and the ability to use bilateral integration.
The corpus collosum is an area in the middle of the brain that links the left and right sides for communication between the two hemispheres.