New Research Sheds New Light on Link between Anxiety and Autism

Published on in CHOP News

A new study led by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows that children with both autism and anxiety have a smaller amygdala (a brain region that processes emotions, including fear) than in those who have autism alone.

These findings reveal an important subgroup of people within the broader autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis, and suggest that the difference in size is related to how these individuals process emotions.

The amygdala is thought to be involved in autism, but exactly how has been unclear. The new work, led by John Herrington, PhD, a psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, suggests that the amygdala’s size depends on whether the children also have anxiety. Anxiety is also associated with a small amygdala in individuals not diagnosed with autism.

Read more about this work in Spectrum News.

Learn about ongoing autism research underway at CHOP's Center for Autism Research.