Elena PREDESCU*¹, Paul SIPOS², Roxana SIPOS¹, Felicia IFTENE³, Róbert BALÁZSI4
¹Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
²Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania
³Queen`s University Kingston, Canada
4Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
The objective of this paper was to study brain volumes in children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) as compared to children with a developmental delay (DD). Fifteen children with autism and ten children with developmental delay, ages between 2 and 8 years old, were included in this MRI study. Total brain (TBV), grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes were measured using SPM5. Parents completed The Child Behaviour Checklist 1.5-5 (CBCL) for all the children included in the study. Our results do not indicate statistically significant differences between the two groups, but we observed a higher average of the measured brain volumes in the ASD group. A significant correlation was found between age and GM and WM volumes (for GM volumes Spearman`s rho=.42, DF=23, p<.05 and for WM volumes Spearman`s rho=.57, DF=23, p<.01). We performed a univariate descriptive statistic for CBCL subscale scores and a non-parametric correlation analysis between the three brain volumetric measures (TBV, WM and GM) and participants’ scores on CBCL subscales. In both groups, correlations were found between the measured brain volumes and the scores of the CBCL Attention deficit/Hyperactivity Problems and Opposition Defiant Problems subscales. Unlike the correlations found in the ASD group, the DD group shows only positive correlations. This result suggests a possible moderator role of the disorder, in the relation between CBCL subscales and volumetric measures of the brain. Our data on the measured brain volumes of the two groups largely overlap those described in the literature. Structural measures interpreted in relation to standardized clinical scales can provide useful information for the field of pedopsychiatry.
Keywords: autism, developmental delay, MRI, brain volumes