Neural Mechanisms Underlying the Development of Autism: Future Clinical Implications
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Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are considered to be the most heritable of all mental disorders with a highly variable genetic landscape consisting of 200 to 1,000 genes associated with the disorder. It is often regarded as a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by impairments in social cognition, motor learning, and cognitive functions. This review focuses on the significance of genetics, brain abnormalities, behavioral manifestations, and biological abnormalities in ASD. An overview of possible neural mechanisms associated with ASD, functional connectivity, enhanced activation of neural pathways, and abnormalities in the volume of major brain regions are discussed. Based on this review, a recommendation for examining the human brain as an integrative network of functionally interacting brain regions is proposed to provide new insights about neural communication in the human brain, potential for clinical practice, and future research to reduce impairments of persons living with autism.