Comparison of neural activation in the cerebellum in autistic adolescents with health control adolescents
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Neuropathologic, neurochemical, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) anatomic studies have shown that the cerebellum is the most consistent site of brain abnormality in autism. However, there are very few functional MRI studies done to understand the functioning of this brain region in autism. In this study, we wanted to determine how the cerebellum responds during response inhibition. We compared neural activity in the cerebellar regions in autistic adolescents and control adolescents. Bonnet et al. (2009) describe two paradigms (Go task and Go/No-Go task) to determine response inhibition. We used similar paradigms in our study. 10 autistic and 10 control subjects were used for our study. Data were analyzed using Neuroimaging tool FSL (Smith et al. 2004). General Linear Model was used to test the hypothesis to determine if both groups have any difference in inhibition. Results show that the autistic group has more activation during response inhibition than the control group. This could be because of the loss of Purkinje cells (Bailey et al. 1998, Kemper et al. 1998). The brain may be rewiring itself and it may use a greater expanse of cerebellar tissue to achieve the same end goal.