A computerized imaging program was used to measure cell column morphological features in area 9 of the prefrontal cortex and areas 21 and posterior 22 in the temporal lobe of 9 brains of autistic patients and controls, in a study at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta. Mean age was 12 years for autistic cases and 15 for controls. Specimens were obtained from the Autism Research Foundation, Boston Medical Center, and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (Yakovlev-Haleem Collection). The number of minicolumns in brains of autistic patients were more numerous, smaller, and less compact in their cellular configuration, with reduced neurophil space in the periphery. [1]

COMMENT. This study demonstrating abnormalities in the cell minicolumns of frontal and temporal areas, the basic functional unit for cortical neuronal organization, supports previous reports of structural abnormalities in brains of autistic and childhood-onset schizophrenic patients. (see Progress in Pediatric Neurology III, PNB Publ, 1997;pp239-242). Abnormalities include hypoplasia of cerebellar vermis, smaller cerebral volumes, and lack of hippocampal asymmetry.