Brain magnetic resonance findings in 117 children with autism spectrum disorder under 5 years old

Magali Jane Rochat, Giacomo Distefano, Monica Maffei, Francesco Toni, Annio Posar, Maria Cristina Scaduto, Federica Resca, Cinzia Cameli, Elena Bacchelli, Elena Maestrini, Paola Visconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the potential benefits of neuroimaging measurements across the first 5 years of life in detecting early comorbid or etiological signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In particular, we analyzed the prevalence of neuroradiologic findings in routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of a group of 117 ASD children younger than 5 years old. These data were compared to those reported in typically developing (TD) children. MRI findings in children with ASD were analyzed in relation to their cognitive level, severity of autistic symptoms, and the presence of electroencephalogram (EEG) abnormalities. The MRI was rated abnormal in 55% of children with ASD with a significant prevalence in the high-functioning subgroup compared to TD children. We report significant incidental findings of mega cisterna magna, ventricular anomalies and abnormal white matter signal intensity in ASD without significant associations between these MRI findings and EEG features. Based on these results we discuss the role that brain MRI may play in the diagnostic procedure of ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number741
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Incidental findings
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neurobiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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