Autism Pathogenesis: The Superior Colliculus.


:After been exposed to the visual input, in the first year of life, the brain experiences subtle but massive changes apparently crucial for communicative/emotional and social human development. Its lack could be the explanation of the very high prevalence of autism in children with total congenital blindness. The present theory postulates that the superior colliculus is the key structure for such changes for several reasons: it dominates visual behavior during the first months of life; it is ready at birth for complex visual tasks; it has a significant influence on several hemispheric regions; it is the main brain hub that permanently integrates visual and non-visual, external and internal information (bottom-up and top-down respectively); and it owns the enigmatic ability to take non-conscious decisions about where to focus attention. It is also a sentinel that triggers the subcortical mechanisms which drive social motivation to follow faces from birth and to react automatically to emotional stimuli. Through indirect connections it also activates simultaneously several cortical structures necessary to develop social cognition and to accomplish the multiattentional task required for conscious social interaction in real life settings. Genetic or non-genetic prenatal or early postnatal factors could disrupt the SC functions resulting in autism. The timing of postnatal biological disruption matches the timing of clinical autism manifestations. Astonishing coincidences between etiologies, clinical manifestations, cognitive and pathogenic autism theories on one side and SC functions on the other are disclosed in this review. Although the visual system dependent of the SC is usually considered as accessory of the LGN canonical pathway, its imprinting gives the brain a qualitatively specific functions not supplied by any other brain structure.


Front Neurosci


Jure R




Has Abstract


2019-01-09 00:00:00










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