a1 Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
The past decade has witnessed an exponential growth in research on autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting social, language, communication, and behavioral development. This growth is fuelled by many factors, including rising prevalence rates; increased media attention and public awareness; the creation of new parent-based research foundations; and targeted federal funding opportunities. Researchers have taken advantage of new theoretical frameworks and exciting scientific technologies that are now being employed to address key questions about the underlying causes and pathophysiology of autism. Advances in developmental neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience, including the application of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods, have had a particularly significant impact in providing insights into the neurobiology of autism. Several of these key advances, which are closely tied to changes in the way the developmental phenotype of autism has been conceptualized, are highlighted in the papers comprising this Symposium issue.