Dr. Temple Grandin: A neuropsychological and multimodal neuroimaging case study of a savant with autism
Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, 2:45 PM - 3:00 PM
*J. R. COOPERRIDER
, E. D. BIGLER
, J. S. ANDERSON
, S. DORAN
, C. ENNIS
, N. ADLURU
, A. L. ALEXANDER
, A. L. FROEHLICH
, M. B. D. PRIGGE
, J. E. LAINHART
Psychiatry (Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience),
Psychiatry, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT;
Psychology, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT;
Sch. of Med.,
Biostatistics & Med. Informatics,
Med. Physics; Psychiatry, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Background: Dr. Temple Grandin, internationally renowned scientist with autism, has provided science with many insights into the mind of individuals with autism. She has a unique mind, exceptional memory, and savant visuospatial abilities. She has allowed the study of her brain to elucidate how brain structure and function are related to outstanding ability and disability within the same brain.
Methods: Structural, diffusion tensor, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, DTI, and fMRI) was performed at 3-Tesla on Dr. Grandin and compared to three control participants matched to her on sex and age. Measures analyzed were total and regional brain volume, cortical thickness, white matter microstructure, and fMRI BOLD signal. A neuropsychological assessment targeted to Dr. Grandin's cognitive strengths and weaknesses was also performed on her, including Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices, the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT), the Wechsler Memory Scale-III (WMS-III), and the Trail Making Test.
Results: Dr. Grandin’s left lateral ventricle showed much more leftward volumetric asymmetry than controls. Her left cerebral white matter volume and bilateral entorhinal cortex thickness were much greater compared to controls. Her fusiform gyrus thickness was much less than the control mean. She had greater left lateral ventricle, intracranial, left cingulate, bilateral amygdala, and bilateral entorhinal cortex volumes. White matter microstructural differences were found for Dr. Grandin in multiple brain regions, including those known to relate to language function and facial information processing. Unlike in controls, her brain activity was increased in her bilateral parietal cortex during a visual language task and in her medial prefrontal cortex during a music task. The neuropsychological assessment indicated superior visuospatial and nonverbal reasoning abilities (perfect score on Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices and 97th percentile on the Visuospatial/Constructional domain of the RBANS), with deficits in attention, executive function, and memory for items not easily adapted to visual imagery. Testing done 30 years earlier found very exceptional verbal ability in Dr. Grandin.
Conclusions: There is evidence of some unique differences found in Dr. Grandin’s brain structure and function compared to the neurotypical population, as represented by our limited sample. The neuropsychological findings fit well with anecdotal and introspective evidence provided by Dr. Grandin and with a number of the neuroimaging findings.
NIMH grant RO1 MH080826
Neuroscience Training Grant NIH NIDCD T32DC008553 (University Utah)
Neuroscience Achievement Fellowship (University of Utah)
[Authors]. [Abstract Title]. Program No. XXX.XX. 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012. Online.
2012 Copyright by the Society for Neuroscience all rights reserved. Permission to republish any abstract or part of any abstract in any form must be obtained in writing by SfN office prior to publication.
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