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Title: Investigations into the role of the medial temporal lobes in autism
Author: Salmond, Claire Helen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3547 6234
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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Autism is a neurodevelopmental psychiatric syndrome characterised by impairments in three domains: social interaction, communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests. The neuropathology associated with Autism is unclear. A recently developed animal model implicates the medial temporal lobes in Autism. Bachevalier and colleagues have demonstrated that bilateral ablation of the medial temporal lobes of neonatal monkeys leads to the development of a constellation of symptoms similar to those of Autism. This thesis investigates the hypothesis that medial temporal lobe abnormality is responsible for some of the cognitive and behavioural impairments seen in individuals with Autism. A number of different techniques are used to compare the brain structure and cognitive and behavioural function of children with Autism with those of normal controls. The neuropsychological investigations described in Part I revealed an impairment in episodic memory and no evidence of impaired semantic memory or recognition memory. Additionally, a protocol of tests of executive functions revealed a deficit in a task sensitive to the functioning of the orbitofrontal cortex and a motor checklist revealed co-ordination difficulties consistent with cerebellar abnormality. Part II describes investigations of brain structure, using a variety of magnetic resonance techniques. A new analysis technique was developed specifically to examine bilateral abnormalities in developmental disorders. This technique revealed bilateral abnormalities in the amygdala, hippocampal formation, orbitofrontal cortex, superior temporal gyrus and cerebellum in children with Autism. In Part III, the functional integrity of three event related potentials was investigated. These components were selected as they have been shown to be disrupted by medial temporal lobe abnormality. The results suggest that any functional abnormality of these waveforms is of a more subtle nature than could be detected through the paradigms used in this thesis. In summary, convergent evidence of abnormality in the medial temporal lobes, orbitofrontal cortex and the cerebellum in Autism was obtained.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medicine