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Function and structure in social brain regions can link oxytocin-receptor genes with autistic social behavior

Function and structure in social brain regions can link oxytocin-receptor genes with autistic social behavior

Brain and Development 35(2): 111-118

Difficulties in appropriate social and communicative behaviors are the most prevalent and core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Although recent intensive research has focused on the neurobiological background of these difficulties, many aspects of them were not yet elucidated. Recent studies have employed multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) indices as intermediate phenotypes of this behavioral phenotype to link candidate genes with the autistic social difficulty. As MRI indices, functional MRI (fMRI), structural MRI, and MR-spectroscopy have been examined in subjects with autism spectrum disorders. As candidate genes, this mini-review has much interest in oxytocin-receptor genes (OXTR), since recent studies have repeatedly reported their associations with normal variations in social cognition and behavior as well as with their extremes, autistic social dysfunction. Through previous increasing studies, medial prefrontal cortex, hypothalamus and amygdala have repeatedly been revealed as neural correlates of autistic social behavior by MRI multimodalities and their relationship to OXTR. For further development of this research area, this mini-review integrates recent accumulating evidence about human behavioral and neural correlates of OXTR.

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Accession: 036579490

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PMID: 22986294

DOI: 10.1016/j.braindev.2012.08.010

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