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Inhibitory dysfunction and social processing difficulties in autism: A comprehensive narrative review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-12-19, 03:44 authored by NF Parrella, Aron HillAron Hill, LM Dipnall, YJ Loke, Peter EnticottPeter Enticott, Talitha FordTalitha Ford
The primary inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has a prominent role in regulating neural development and function, with disruption to GABAergic signalling linked to behavioural phenotypes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism. Such neurochemical disruption, likely resulting from diverse genetic and molecular mechanisms, particularly during early development, can subsequently affect the cellular balance of excitation and inhibition in neuronal circuits, which may account for the social processing difficulties observed in autism and related conditions. This comprehensive narrative review integrates diverse streams of research from several disciplines, including molecular neurobiology, genetics, epigenetics, and systems neuroscience. In so doing it aims to elucidate the relevance of inhibitory dysfunction to autism, with specific focus on social processing difficulties that represent a core feature of this disorder. Many of the social processing difficulties experienced in autism have been linked to higher levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and/or lower levels of inhibitory GABA. While current therapeutic options for social difficulties in autism are largely limited to behavioural interventions, this review highlights the psychopharmacological studies that explore the utility of GABA modulation in alleviating such difficulties.

History

Journal

Journal of Psychiatric Research

Volume

169

Pagination

113-125

Location

England

ISSN

0022-3956

eISSN

1879-1379

Language

en

Publisher

Elsevier BV