Something strange is going on in the amygdala – an almond-shaped structure deep in the human brain – among people with autism. Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered an increased pattern of brain activity in the amygdalas of adults with autism that may be linked to the social deficits that typically are associated with the disorder. Previous research at the UW and elsewhere has shown that abnormal growth patterns in the amygdala are commonly found among young children diagnosed with autism.
The amygdala is popularly associated with the “fight-or-flight response” in dangerous situations. But it has other functions, including identifying faces and situations and evaluating social information such as emotions.