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RDoC-based categorization of amygdala functions and its implications in autism.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018 Apr 13;:

Authors: Hennessey T, Andari E, Rainnie DG

Confusion endures as to the exact role of the amygdala in relation to autism. To help resolve this we turned to the NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) which provides a classification schema that identifies different categories of behaviors that can turn pathologic in mental health disorders, e.g. autism. While RDoC incorporates all the known neurobiological substrates for each domain, this review will focus primarily on the amygdala. We first consider the amygdala from an anatomical, historical, and developmental perspective. Next, we examine the different domains and constructs of RDoC that the amygdala is involved in: Negative Valence Systems, Positive Valence Systems, Cognitive Systems, Social Processes, and Arousal and Regulatory Systems. Then the evidence for a dysfunctional amygdala in autism is presented with a focus on alterations in development, prenatal valproic acid exposure as a model for ASD, and changes in the oxytocin system therein. Finally, a synthesis of RDoC, the amygdala, and autism is offered, emphasizing the task of disambiguation and suggestions for future research.

PMID: 29660417 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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