By definition, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that emerges during early childhood. It is during this time that infants and toddlers transition from appearing typical across multiple domains to exhibiting the behavioral phenotype of ASD. Neuroimaging studies focused on this period of development have provided crucial knowledge pertaining to this process, including possible mechanisms underlying pathogenesis of the disorder and offering the possibility of prodromal or presymptomatic prediction of risk. In this paper, we review findings from structural and functional brain imaging studies of ASD focused on the first years of life and discuss implications for next steps in research and clinical applications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health under Grants K01 MH101653 (to J.J.W.) and RO1 MH104324 (to J.T.E.) and by a University of Minnesota/Mayo Clinic Partnership Grant (to S.J.)