The claustrum (Cl) is a subcortical gray-matter structure housed between the external capsule medially and the extreme capsule laterally. Due to its extensive reciprocal connections throughout the brain, it has been implicated in consciousness and other higher order functions including linking behavior and emotion. Such linkage may be important in understanding the neurobiology of autism since other cortical and subcortical regions including the spatially and ontologically related basal ganglia, as well as limbic structures, have been implicated in the disorder. Participants were males with autism (n=16) and typically developing (TD; n=14) matched for head circumference and age. The Cl and other structures were identified in 3-Tesla MRI scans using ANALYZE®, then segmented and volume quantified. Four Cl volumes were traced (i.e., right, left, right ventral, left ventral) first in axial plane then in coronal plane for entire Cl visualization. Two-tailed single sample t-tests revealed significant differences in the right claustrum (p=.014), left claustrum (p = .041), right total claustrum (p = .018) and left total claustrum (p=.044). Right Cl volume was found to be significantly larger than left within each of the groups (Autism, p=.021; TD, p=.033). These preliminary results demonstrate that the Cl can be consistently identified in vivo using ROI tracing with apparent right-versus-left asymmetry documented. Smaller claustral volumes in autism support theories of a disconnect in long-range circuitry associated with autism.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





claustrum, autism, quantitative MRI

Included in

Psychology Commons