Autistic spectrum disorders as functional disconnection syndrome

Robert Melillo, Gerry Leisman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We outline the basis of how functional disconnection with reduced activity and coherence in the right hemisphere would explain all of the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder as well as the observed increases in sympathetic activation. If the problem of autistic spectrum disorder is primarily one of desynchronization and ineffective interhemispheric communication, then the best way to address the symptoms is to improve coordination between areas of the brain. To do that the best approach would include multimodal therapeusis that would include a combination of somatosensory, cognitive, behavioral, and biochemical interventions all directed at improving overall health, reducing inflammation and increasing right hemisphere activity to the level that it becomes temporally coherent with the left hemisphere. We hypothesize that the unilateral increased hemispheric stimulation has the effect of increasing the temporal oscillations within the thalamocortical pathways bringing it closer to the oscillation rate of the adequately functioning hemisphere. We propose that increasing the baseline oscillation speed of one entire hemisphere will enhance the coordination and coherence between the two hemispheres allowing for enhanced motor and cognitive binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-131
Number of pages21
JournalReviews in the Neurosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • ADHD
  • Asperger's
  • Autism
  • Dopamine systems
  • Dysautonomia
  • Epigenetic
  • Functional disconnection
  • Gamma oscillations
  • Hemisphericity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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