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November 1996

Autism Research: Bringing Together Approaches to Pull Apart the Disorder

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry Cornell University Medical College 525 E 68th St, Box 147 New York, NY 10021; Yale Child Study Center New Haven, conn; Cornell University Medical College New York

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996;53(11):980-983. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1996.01830110011002

INTHIS ISSUE, 3 articles1-3 present important results and extend the continuing effort to understand the biological bases of autistic disorder. The problems in this quest are not unique to autism but appear in only slightly altered form ininvestigations of every neuropsychiatric disorder. All of the authors have wrestled with the universal issues of syndrome definition, multiple symptom domains, clinical heterogeneity, neurochemical and pharmacological specificity, and the interpretation of behavioral responses seen during challenge and treatment protocols. These issues raise basic questions about how to approach a characterization of the etiology and pathophysiology of autism, as well as how to integrate data from diverse levels of inquiry including molecular genetics, developmental neurobiology, neuropathology, neurochemistry, neuropsychology, and clinical pharmacology. Strategies for future research will be considered following a review of the specific aims, methods, and findings of the 3 studies.

See also pages 985, 993, and 1001

The double-blind, placebo-controlled fluvoxamine trial reported by McDougle and colleagues2 was an attempt to find a more effective, better-tolerated, and safer treatment for autism. The work

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