- A close eye on the eagle-eyed visual acuity hypothesis of autism (2011)
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been associated with sensory hypersensitivity. A recent study reported visual acuity (VA) in ASD in the region reported for birds of prey. The validity of the results was subsequently doubted. This study examined VA in 34 individuals with ASD, 16 with schizophrenia (SCH), and 26 typically developing (TYP). Participants with ASD did not show higher VA than those with SCH and TYP. There were no substantial correlations of VA with clinical severity in ASD or SCH. This study could not confirm the eagle-eyed acuity hypothesis of ASD, or find evidence for a connection of VA and clinical phenotypes. Research needs to further address the origins and circumstances associated with altered sensory or perceptual processing in ASD.
- Structural Alterations of the Social Brain: A Comparison between Schizophrenia and Autism (2014)
- Autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia share a substantial number of etiologic and phenotypic characteristics. Still, no direct comparison of both disorders has been performed to identify differences and commonalities in brain structure. In this voxel based morphometry study, 34 patients with autism spectrum disorder, 21 patients with schizophrenia and 26 typically developed control subjects were included to identify global and regional brain volume alterations. No global gray matter or white matter differences were found between groups. In regional data, patients with autism spectrum disorder compared to typically developed control subjects showed smaller gray matter volume in the amygdala, insula, and anterior medial prefrontal cortex. Compared to patients with schizophrenia, patients with autism spectrum disorder displayed smaller gray matter volume in the left insula. Disorder specific positive correlations were found between mentalizing ability and left amygdala volume in autism spectrum disorder, and hallucinatory behavior and insula volume in schizophrenia. Results suggest the involvement of social brain areas in both disorders. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings and to quantify the amount of distinct and overlapping neural correlates in autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.