AREAS OF THE BRAIN AFFECTED BY AUTISM

 

There are many areas of the brain involved with language.  Two major areas in the brain affected by autism are Wernicke's Area and Broca's Area (Carlson, 1999).  Some other areas studied shown to be affected in autistic patients include the limbic system, cerebellum and association cortex.  These, however, are not the only areas affected.  There are also impairments involved with memory, information processing and selective attention (Minshew, 1991).  These areas and impairments, though offering some explanation, have not been proven to have a direct causal relationship to autism.

Despite all the medical improvements that have been made, we do not yet have a cure for autism. As a result, about half of all autistic individuals are mute for life. For those that can talk, they have various problems forming sentences and their body language rarely matches what they are trying to say (Carter, 2001). Children who play and interact with others may have increased language skills compared to those children that don’t engage in play activities. This can be frustrating for both parties involved in the conversation. 

Though the exact cause of autism is not yet known, it has been linked to neurological or biological differences in the brain. In some instances, it has been shown that autistic children have experienced epileptic seizures, along with other abnormal brain activity (Rapin, 1991). Some of the areas include Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, as well as the cerebellum and association cortex. Hopefully, by studying these areas in more detail, we can see which influences language more, especially in those with autism.

 

Illustration of brain pointing out key areas

 

Figure 1 – Areas of the brain that are affected by autism, such

as the cerebellum, hippocampus and amygdala.

Picture borrowed from http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/autism/info15.shtml.

 

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