Longitudinal Brain Changes During the Transition from Adolescence to Young Adulthood found in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

New study published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Washington D.C., June 11, 2015

A study published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry demonstrates that the atypical trajectory of cortical/brain development in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) extends well beyond young childhood and into late adolescence and young adulthood.

A considerable amount of work has focused on early structural brain development in ASD utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This body of work has revealed evidence for brain overgrowth during the early postnatal years that appears largely absent later in development in ASD. Although several studies of cortical brain structure in adolescence and young adulthood in ASD have been completed, the vast majority has utilized cross-sectional (i.e., one point in time) designs. In one of the first studies to examine longitudinal (i.e., following the same subjects over time) cortical development in ASD during late adolescence and early adulthood, researchers found an exaggeration of the normal thinning of the cortex that occurs during this age range. Moreover, this increased cortical thinning was associated with greater executive function problems (based on behavioral ratings) and ASD social symptoms. This study suggests that the atypical trajectory of cortical/brain development in ASD extends well beyond young childhood and into late adolescence and young adulthood. More work is needed to understand brain development during the transition from adolescence into adulthood and beyond.

The article “Longitudinal Cortical Development During Adolescence and Young Adulthood in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Increased Cortical Thinning but Comparable Surface Area Changes” by Gregory L. Wallace, Ian W. Eisenberg, Briana Robustelli, Nathan Dankner, Lauren Kenworthy, Jay N. Giedd, and Alex Martin (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2015.03.007) appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 54, Issue 6 (June 2015), published by Elsevier.

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Notes for editors
Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Mary Billingsley at +1 202 587 9672 or mbillingsley@jaacap.org. Journalists wishing to interview the authors may contact Dr. Gregory L. Wallace at gwallac1@gwu.edu.

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About JAACAP 
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) is the official publication of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. JAACAP is the leading journal focusing exclusively on today's psychiatric research and treatment of the child and adolescent. Published twelve times per year, each issue is committed to its mission of advancing the science of pediatric mental health and promoting the care of youth and their families. www.jaacap.com

The journal's purpose is to advance research, clinical practice, and theory in child and adolescent psychiatry. It is interested in manuscripts from diverse viewpoints, including genetic, epidemiological, neurobiological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, social, cultural, and economic. Studies of diagnostic reliability and validity, psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatment efficacy, and mental health services effectiveness are encouraged. The journal also seeks to promote the well-being of children and families by publishing scholarly papers on such subjects as health policy, legislation, advocacy, culture and society, and service provision as they pertain to the mental health of children and families.

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Media contact
Mary Billingsley
JAACAP Editorial Office
+1 202 587 9672
mbillingsley@jaacap.org