In the fold

The brain's creases may explain autism and other mental disorders

When it comes to the grey, gooey matter that makes up our brains, form and function are very connected. Historically, researchers have gathered that how the brain is layered and folded during development explains how well it works. Abnormal cortical layers may be responsible for dyslexia, for example, and schizophrenia. Now, scientists are working to determine whether irregular brain folds may cause autism. Studies have shown that grooves inside the brains of autistic people are deeper or out of place compared to healthy brains. “In autistic people, communication between nearby cortical areas increases, whereas communication between distant areas decreases,” according to a fascinating article in the latest Scientific American. “As a result, these patients have difficulties ignoring irrelevant things and shifting their attention when it is appropriate to do so.” The authors suggest that future studies may change the way autism is diagnosed and treated—there may be more focus on have autistic people use different parts of their brain to complete tasks.

Scientific American