Anxiety may alter processing of emotions in people with autism

A brain region that processes emotions, including fear, tends to be smaller in children who have both autism and anxiety than in those who have autism alone, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that the difference in volume of this region, called the amygdala, is related to how these individuals process emotions.

The amygdala is thought to be involved in autism, but exactly how has been unclear. Some studies have reported that it is larger in children with autism than in controls and perhaps normalizes later in life — but others have shown that it is smaller.

The new work suggests that the amygdala’s size depends on whether the children also have anxiety. Anxiety is also associated with a small amygdala in typical individuals.

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6th September 2017