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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: January 2010

20 - The duplicity of plasticity: a conceptual approach to the study of early lesions and developmental disorders

from Part 5 - Future directions


Neuroimaging studies in patients with early acquired damage will primarily seek to identify enhanced activations in regions outside a structural lesion. By comparison, imaging studies in developmental disorders will typically look for an absence or abnormality of activation that is assumed to reflect a particular cognitive or affective impairment. This chapter deals with evidence indicating vulnerability effects in non-human animals and human patients with early structural lesions. It discusses the interaction of vulnerability and compensatory events in developmental disorders, with exemplary focus on autism, developmental language impairment (DLI), and dyslexia. The chapter presents developmental disorders both in terms of the obvious effects of maturational vulnerability and in terms of the typically more elusive effects of compensatory reorganization. It focuses on autism and Asperger's syndrome. In the discussion presented here on bottom-up and top-down approaches, there are interesting parallels in the debates about developmental disorders of spoken and of written language.