Autism as a Quantitative Trait

John N. Constantino

in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371826
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965212 | DOI:
Autism as a Quantitative Trait

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  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience


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This chapter discusses the following: genetic mechanisms underlying quantitative traits; quantitative variation in autistic symptomatology in affected families; the factoral structure of quantitative autistic traits; quantitative variation in autistic symptomatology in the general population; the clinical ascertainment of autistic severity; intergenerational transmission of quantitative autistic traits; other implications of a quantitative structure for autism; quantitative autistic traits and endophenotypes; and the interface between social impairment and general cognition. The deficits that characterize autistic syndromes—including those in the current diagnostic criterion domains of reciprocal social behavior, social communication and repetitive behavior/restricted interests—are continuously distributed in nature and may share common underlying genetic and neural mechanisms. Integrating quantitative approaches to characterization of neurodevelopmental syndromes will help advance the search for genetic, psychologic neurobiologic and endophenotypic components of their underlying cause(s), and provides a basis for repeated-measurement strategies that can track developmental course and response to intervention.

Chapter.  7645 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ; Neurology ; Neuroscience

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