Gyrification patterns in monozygotic twin pairs varying in discordance for autism

Wendy R. Kates, Ichiro Ikuta, Courtney P. Burnette

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Scopus citations


    In order to disentangle genetic and environmental contributions to cortical anomalies in children with autism, we investigated cortical folding patterns in a cohort of 14 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs who displayed a range of phenotypic discordance for autism, and 14 typically developing community controls. Cortical folding was assessed with the gyrification index, which was calculated on high resolution anatomic MR images. We found that the cortical folding patterns across most lobar regions of the cerebral cortex was highly discordant within MZ twin pairs. In addition, children with autism and their co-twins exhibited increased cortical folding in the right parietal lobe, relative to age- and gender-matched typical developing children. Increased folding in the right parietal lobe was associated with more symptoms of autism for co-twins. Finally, the robust association between cortical folding and IQ observed in typical children was not observed in either children with autism or their co-twins. These findings, which contribute to our understanding of the limits of genetic liability in autism, suggest that anomalies in the structural integrity of the cortex in this PDD may disrupt the association between cortical folding and intelligence that has been reported in typical individuals, and may account, in part, for the deficits in visual spatial attention and in social cognition that have been reported in children with autism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)267-278
    Number of pages12
    JournalAutism Research
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 2009


    • Autism
    • Brain
    • Cortical gyrification
    • MRI
    • Twins

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)
    • Clinical Neurology
    • Genetics(clinical)


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