Chapter 10. Atypical cerebral lateralisation and language impairment in autism

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Autism is among the most severe, prevalent and heritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. However, the factors causing autism are still unclear. Language difficulties are at the core of autism, and any aetiological theory must incorporate a plausible explanation of this symptom. The development of cerebral lateralisation has long been theorised to be associated with language impairment. This chapter reviews the empirical evidence linking cerebral lateralisation and language impairment in both typical and atypical development, with a particular focus on the communication difficulties characteristic of autism. Potential causal pathways are also considered, such as fetal testosterone exposure. Finally, methodological limitations in this area and future avenues for research are discussed.


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