Research News

Paper from UW’s Travers examines how brain develops in those with autism

April 03, 2015

UW-Madison’s Brittany Travers is the lead author of a new publication that examines how the corpus callosum develops in autism from childhood into adulthood.

Titled, “Atypical development of white matter microstructure of the corpus callosum in males with autism: a longitudinal investigation,” the paper appears in the journal, Molecular Autism.

Brittany Travers
The paper’s abstract explains how the “corpus callosum is the largest white matter structure in the brain, and it is the most consistently reported to be atypical in diffusion tensor imaging studies of autism spectrum disorder. In individuals with typical development, the corpus callosum is known to undergo a protracted development from childhood through young adulthood. However, no study has longitudinally examined the developmental trajectory of corpus callosum in autism past early childhood.”

The study looked at “age-related changes of the corpus callosum in 100 males with autism and 56 age-matched males with typical development from early childhood (when autism can first be reliably diagnosed) to mid-adulthood (after development of the corpus callosum has been completed) (3 to 41 years of age).”

The paper explains that the “group with autism demonstrated a different developmental trajectory of white matter microstructure in the anterior corpus callosum’s (genu and body) fractional anisotropy, which suggests atypical brain maturation in these regions in autism.”

For an in-depth look at this topic, and to get a sense of what this all might mean, make sure and check out the paper for free on the Molecular Autism website.

Travers is an assistant professor with the Department of Kinesiology’s Occupational Therapy program.