Effects of age and symptomatology on cortical thickness in autism spectrum disorders

Krissy A.R. Doyle-Thomas, Emma G. Duerden, Margot J. Taylor, Jason P. Lerch, Latha V. Soorya, A. Ting Wang, Jin Fan, Eric Hollander, Evdokia Anagnostou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Several brain regions show structural and functional abnormalities in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but the developmental trajectory of abnormalities in these structures and how they may relate to social and communicative impairments are still unclear. We assessed the effects of age on cortical thickness in individuals with ASD, between the ages of 7 and 39 years in comparison to typically developing controls. Additionally, we examined differences in cortical thickness in relation to symptomatology in the ASD group, and their association with age. Analyses were conducted using a general linear model, controlling for sex. Social and communication scores from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) were correlated with the thickness of regions implicated in those functions. Controls showed widespread cortical thinning relative to the ASD group. Within regions-of-interest, increased thickness in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex was associated with poorer social scores. Additionally, a significant interaction between age and social impairment was found in the orbitofrontal cortex, with more impaired younger children having decreased thickness in this region. These results suggest that differential neurodevelopmental trajectories are present in individuals with ASD and some differences are associated with diagnostic behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cortical thickness
  • Developmental changes
  • Social impairment
  • Structural MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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