ISSN: 1522-4821



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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Schizophrenia: Do They Overlap?

Stefano Barlati, Giacomo Deste, Cassandra Ariu and Antonio Vita

Starting from Kanner’s description of autism, suggesting a similarity with schizophrenia, the question of comorbid association or phenotypic variations between autism and schizophrenia has been raised many times. These disorders are currently conceptualized as distinct illnesses. However, in the last years, the possible overlap between the two disorders has been investigated under several aspects: environmental risks factors, alterations in neural development, genetics, neural anatomy, neurocognitive and social cognitive impairment. Several studies underline the possibility that autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia share at least some pathogenetic mechanisms and that similar alterations in brain developmental pathways might underline part of the phenotypic spectrum of these disorders. This review briefly summarizes the commonalities and overlapping features between autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Exploring the commonalities between autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia could provide new insight to better understand the etiology, pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention of these disorders.