The neural basis of language and motor deficits in autism is still not completely clear. The aim of this study was to explore the involvement of the parietal lobe in language and motor development in autism, in view of the recognized role of this region in language and imitation functions. Twenty-eight autistic children underwent an extensive clinical assessment and an MRI examination. A significant direct correlation between age at first word and left parietal gray matter volumes was found (r=0.50, p=0.007). Conversely, age at reaching milestones of motor development, such as the ability to sit and to walk unaided, was not significantly associated with parietal size, after correcting for chronological age and for gender. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first structural MRI report demonstrating a role of left parietal gray matter volumes in delayed language development in autistic children representative of the 'real world' autistic population.
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