AofA Science Summary: Glutamate carboxypeptidase II and folate deficiencies result in reciprocal protection against cognitive and social deficits in mice
Dr Dhillon's Statement - BMJ Allegations Not As Cut & Dried As Editor Suggests

Courchesne Brain Study Not Worth Sacrificing our Children Further

Brain flushBy Katie Wright

I frequently read about the importance of brain and tissue donation by autistic people for autism research. Apparently there is a severe shortage of this tissue available for study. To me my child’s brain is the essence of Christian. So much unnecessary damage has already been done to Christian’s brain.  His brain was shown so little care and respect by the medical research community. Doctors took risks with my child they have no right to take. I feel I did not, was unable to, protect Christian’s brain when it really mattered and he suffers from traumatic brain damage as a result. Naturally, now I am extremely protective of Christian; it is the least I can do.

No one knows better than parents like me that autism research is moving too slowly, making too few ground breaking or life improving discoveries. If Christian’s deceased body could meaningfully contribute to innovative causation research, it would be very, very hard, but I would say yes and donate his body. If his brain were used to accelerate true progress I think it would be a great tribute to his spirit. I am sure most ASD parents feel the same way. 

However the recent Courchesne Study made me change my mind about donating Christian’s brain to science. This study represents my nightmare, the worst-case scenario. Children’s brains have been used for politically driven poor quality science. I would rather Christian be buried with his brain intact than used for such abysmal research.

JAMA should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this Courchesne study. Courchesne examined the brains of 7 children with autism and 6 controls. Yes, this study is entirely based upon 13 people. Courchesne found that the autistic brains had more neurons in the pre-frontal cortex than the control brains.  He describes these findings as, “an incredibly important discovery that tells us something started going wrong in prenatal life in children with autism.” This is both an unbelievable and unbelievably self-serving statement filled with hyperbole and grandiosity.

What Couchesne’s study actually tells us is that 6 ASD children had more prefrontal cortex neurons than 7 typical children.  There were no aged matched controls! 2 of the 7 “ASD” children did not even have an official ASD diagnosis! 5 of the 7 ASD kids were on anti-psychotic drugs. We have idea how these drugs affect developing brain tissue.  1 of the control children had been taking Concerta and klonopin. Another control had had an organ transplant and was on immunosuppressive drugs for lengthy periods of time.  There are only 5 controls not, as far as we know, on various prescription drugs. The fact that this study was actually published only proves how low the bar is for ASD genetic and brain research. There are not enough hours this day to list all the incredible, innovative environmental research studies regularly rejected by autism research journals. A 7-person biomedical study would NEVER be published by JAMA, I promise you.

There is a powerful and pervasive need of so many in the autism research community to “prove” autism is genetically and prenatally determined. The majority of autism researchers have spent their professional lives betting on the belief that autism is mainly a heritable genetic disorder of the brain. They have staked their careers on this hypothesis. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars looking for the “autism genes.” This area of autism research has eaten up 80 cents of every dollar available for research. For decades we have been hearing promises that this genetic/ brain research would soon yield breakthroughs and exciting new treatments would result. The only problem here is they have not delivered, not to our children, not to our families nor to the taxpayers.

In the meantime families have grown more vocally impatient. Their kids need help and they need help now. Forget about vaccine safety research, that is a non-starter. Let’s just look at some research basics that need to get done. Virtually no money has been spent researching here and now biomedical interventions. Over 50% of ASD kids have bowel problems- there are no approved treatments. 25% of ASD kids have a mitochondrial dysfunction- there are no approved treatments. Over 25% of ASD kids have serious food intolerances- there are no approved dietary interventions. At least 25% of ASD kids suffer from chronic illness and immune dysfunction- there are no approved treatments. Over 50% of ASD regress into autism and there are no approved treatments to stop or reverse this process.

Families are frequenting told there isn’t enough research money available to address these issues. But guess what there is plenty of money for? Brain and gene research! These “Autism Centers for Excellence” centers blow almost $17 million a year on redundant brain and gene research. It is estimated that 50% of the ACE budgets go to overheard. There is no consumer oversight or public accountability for the money they spend. The NIH doles of autism research money behind closed dollars and without consumer input (they are under no obligation to follow the IACC recommendations), and guess what they love to fund the most? Brain and gene research.

This ridiculous Courchesne study was conducted by an ACE center naturally. I am sad to say it was funded in part by Autism Speaks.

The NIH and Autism Speaks have undertaken a campaign to promote brain and tissue donations. The evidence of this publicized and well-funded campaign is everywhere. As I stated earlier, as much as it would pain me I had planned to make my son’s brain and body available for research. This Courchesne study has changed my mind.

This mother does not want to hear one more word about brain donations until we see the reform of ACE. I want Autism Speaks to stop putting so much time and energy into acquiring brains and instead train that focus on biomedical treatment research that will help children living today. AS has made some nice progress, especially with the recent Trailblazer grant which is terrific. However, AS’ treatment science has been almost entirely behaviorally based. Small forays into biomedical research have focused on oxytocin, please; small time stuff. We need meaningful gut, immune, PANDAS, Lyme, adverse vaccine reaction and mitochondrial interventions. I would rather see no more brain research period than another Courchesne like study. This study is unworthy of our children’s brains, a precious resource deserving of more respect and only the very best science.

Katie Wright is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.

Managing Editor's Addition. This study, like so many others funded by AS and other mainstream, "anything but vaccination" entities is so depressing that we need to find something to laugh at. Young Frankenstein (that's frahn-ken-steen) serves the purpose, yes?"


Eileen Nicole Simon

Courchesne et al. cited references that indicated no postnatal increase in cortical neurons following birth. Curious? In PubMed I looked up "cortical neurogenesis" & postnatal, and found 20 citations. From refs 1-3 below it looks like neurogenesis occurs in response to injury, and is the basis for the idea of “neuroplasticity.”

Anoxia at birth causes clear-cut injury of nuclei in the auditory pathway, which should be investigated as a cause of developmental language disorder [see refs 4-6 below]. The research of Windle has been ignored for too long. However, Kulesza et al. recently reported abnormalities of auditory nuclei (superior olive) in brains of deceased people with autism [7]. His group also found abnormalities in the superior olive in animals exposed prenatally to valproic acid (Depakote) [8].

It is infuriating, and cruel, that present-day researchers keep reaching the conclusion that brain abnormalities are hereditary defects. John Fryer below points out that all infants get the hep B vaccine on day one. Since the mid-1980s they also all have had the umbilical cord clamped within seconds following birth, which prevents ongoing respiration from the placenta, which many babies need until their lungs are fully functional.

Is any kind of legal action possible to stop all of the iatrogenic procedure used in childbirth and neonatal care?

[1] Kreuzberg M et al. Increased subventricular zone-derived cortical neurogenesis after ischemic lesion. Exp Neurol. 2010 Nov;226(1):90-9.
[2] Fagel DM et al. Cortical neurogenesis enhanced by chronic perinatal hypoxia. Exp Neurol. 2006 May;199(1):77-91.
[3] Krägeloh-Mann I. Imaging of early brain injury and cortical plasticity. Exp Neurol. 2004 Nov;190 Suppl 1:S84-90.
[4] Ranck JB, Windle WF. Brain damage in the monkey, Macaca mulatta, by asphyxia neonatorum. Exp Neurol. 1959 Jun;1(2):130-54.
[5] Faro MD, Windle WF. Transneuronal degeneration in brains of monkeys asphyxiated at birth. Exp Neurol. 1969 May;24(1):38-53.
[6] Windle WF. Brain damage by asphyxia at birth. Sci Am. 1969 Oct;221(4):76-84.
[7] Kulesza RJ Jr et al. Malformation of the human superior olive in autistic spectrum disorders. Brain Res. 2011 Jan 7;1367:360-71.
[8] Lukose R et al. Malformation of the superior olivary complex in an animal model of autism. Brain Res. 2011 Jun 29;1398:102-12.

John Fryer

One aspect that worries me is that in the USA all infants get or are supposed to get a vaccine at day one.

So how do you separate vaccinated from unvaccinated?

One of the adverse effects of vaccine are indeed head enlargement.

This should not lead to more neurons though?

We need more information on neuron numbers with age for vaccinated AND unvaccinated.

The numbers DO seem clear so sight of the raw data should resolve the issues very clearly.

At present the study looks like some magical trick of a Houdini. We are not seeing clearly what represents what.


Tissue donation? After all the pain and suffering he is going through? NEVER. I agree with D's comment 100%.Thank
you D for everything you do,I think you are a fantastic mother and a beautiful human being.Your words speak to the heart and mind to many parents with the same issues.All the
best to you.

Nana to a special child

You cannot predict which type of research your donation might be used in though. There are researchers still considering environmental plus pre-existing genetic abnormality creating austism. What if choosing not to donate limits that study instead?


Introversion is a near-universal characteristic of autism, though of course not all introverts are autistic, but perhaps it is this personality trait that predisposes some children to be more vulnerable to develop autism. PET scans reveal that introverts have more activity in the frontal lobes of the brain and anterior, or front, thalamus. Extroverts exhibit more activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus, temporal lobes and posterior thalamus. These variations in brain activity suggest that a lot of our individual differences have an underlying biological cause.

The brain processes information much differently in introverts, than in extroverts. Perhaps, it is this biological difference in the brain that makes some children more susceptible to vaccine injury. Vaccines are designed to cause an immune-response and the way the brain is wired may very well be a contributing factor as to why some children are biologically more vulnerable to vaccine injury.


Every morning I wake up with a pervasive feeling of dread, each night I retire with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. All day, I go about life attempting to assure my child has the best day possible to assure her best outcome possible, work to prevent harm coming to innocents (at least those parents who are educated can make an informed choice), help myriad other families make it through the day, and attempt to leave the world in a state better than I found it. As I pass-out, I pray to a higher power for the strength to make a difference and for the health of the many fallen in this war on our children.

It is pure insanity that our families are asked to donate our time, our limited financial resources, and now our very flesh and blood to seed the alter for the worship of the very beast which has devastated our lives. PhRMA is a greedy piranha, busily consuming our very essence as it rips apart the fabric of our lives, hopes, and dreams.

Government agencies live in the State of Denial, Government appointees and elected officials live fat and hapless in the State of Lobby-wood, and our physicians have moved their critical thinking skills into the State of Blind Faith.

The one study that would be certain to free PhRMA from the abuse it suffers at the hand of our community is relatively inexpensive, yet will not be undertaken any time soon - the study of health outcomes for the fully vaccinated versus the health outcomes for those who are entirely unvaccinated (for example, selecting ages 5 - 18). Yet funds are readily dispensed to any and all who seek to utilize sleight-of-hand to keep Oz safe behind PhRMA's curtain.

This chicanery has derailed meaningful research for over a decade; research which could assure the best possible outcome for the tsunami of children aging-out of the Public School system at an alarming rate. Simply put, our Government is spitting into a gale-force wind. When these kids flood the State and swamp the pitifully funded institutional care raft, the State will be covered in the backsplash of the largest loogie it ever hawked.

The tragic collateral damage of Government's on-going campaign to pollute our children, through injection, ingestion and inhalation, is the human cost - tens of thousands of children the State knowingly, chemically, nipped in the bud, who the State will assure live-out their entire natural adult lives in the seclusion of chemical restraints.

That saying from the 80's, "life sucks and then you die," is a sad prophesy, which Government is hell-bent to manifest.


It may be that autistic children have more neurons in some parts of the brain, but this is not a proof of prenatal/genetic cause, but most likely a result of brain injury during the early days/weeks of like. Neurogenesis is active even in adults, and much more so in infants. Several published studies documented that brain injury stimulates neurogenesis in mammals. Hence Courchesne's study suggests that autistic children were neurologically damaged during their early life – either prenatal or postnatal or both. Toxic vaccines are the primary supects here.


Anne Dachel Wrote: "..Katie, Thank you for the timely piece. I was outraged over this study. It's smoke and mirrors intended only to make parents think mainstream medicine really cares about autism and to change the subject from vaccinations...."


You are exactly right. Modern medicine knows full well that vaccines cause autism, and that's exactly why they've sunk to this new low in their effort to hide that fact.

These people have blood on their hands, and they know the public is waking up to it. They've been covering their tracks with this type of bulls**t for years. But because they own the media, they can spout this nonsense at will, knowing full well that they can also control all forms of rebuttal from credentialed critics just dying to tear it apart.

The problem is, they have taken their vaccine assault way too far. While the incidence of autism has been exploding, so too have countless other autoimmune disorders, in children who are SUPPOSED to be among the healthiest in the world.

In a curious twist of irony, the medical establishment is starting to fall victim to it's own, wildly successful propaganda. Most parents believed what they've been telling us all along, and our kids are now sicker than at any other point in recent history.

But like any big lie, it eventually becomes too complicated to sustain. This wave of awareness is growing fast, and will eventually reach a point where millions of parents will come to realize what has been done their children.

And when that time comes, there will be nowhere for these criminals to hide.


But don't worry, "it's the first 'clear test' of whether occupation and university choices of high achieving parents effect the chances of their child developing autism." I guess that means he's comparing geeks who vaccinate against geeks who don't?

Amanda Blinn

I agree with Lin. My friends used to feel sorry for me, that my child was affected with autism. Theirs weren't. Now we're all older, they have grandchildren who are.


I hate to be the bearer of more bad studies but someone named Tamara Cohen reports in the Daily Mail (online) that that idiot Simon Baron Cohen is up to more useless, time-wasting research - the usual crap about 2 geeks (systemisers he calls them) marrying and having a higher chance of having children with autism. The website for it is parents.


Well done Katie!! Thanks so much for being the voice of reason!! I'd so much rather poke a red hot stick in my eye than endure hearing about another one of these BS studies in the mainstream media again. UGH! Wake up people, if you are not yet personally affected by autism you soon will be!

Eileen Nicole Simon

My first two sons, born in the 1960s, suffered trauma and anoxia at birth. In October 1969 an article by William F. Windle, Brain Damage Caused by Asphyxia at Birth, showed pictures of severe damage in the midbrain auditory pathway.

Another article by Faro and Windle provided evidence that brain growth did not proceed normally in monkeys subjected to asphyxia at birth. Brainstem nuclei produce trophic transmitters that guide development of the cerebral cortex.

I'm pressed for time at the moment. I will try to respond more fully maybe tomorrow. Meanwhile, citations can be found on my website,

Thanks, Katie, for bringing this up for discussion.


Like looking for a Zippo lighter in the desert outside Reno after a 40,000 acre forest fire in the Great Smokey Mountains.


Thank you, Katie.

Shell Tzorfas

Way to go Katie, I totally agree that untold amounts of money studying genes, brains, highways, refrigerator moms, origins, is a waste of time in as much a small percentage of that same money could be used to recovering chemically injured kids. The research seems to be able to stall time and affords vaccine makers more immunity now that 1 in 5 kids are NEUROLOGICALLY Impaired, 1 in 6 Developmentally Disabled since 60 plus vaccines. See, "Recovering Autism ADHD and Special Needs," -google to youtube


Maybe these scientists didn't "keep up", neurogenesis was revisited in the 90's, perhaps they didn't know? Then again the entire team and journal were unaware, as well?


Glad someone has said it.

Adam M

katie-you are once again 100% correct! My son is an adult and I am losing patience with these studies that waste millions of dollars and do nothing to help our children! Our children do not have autism and were not born this way! They are suffering from an illness-a neuroimmune dysfunction! They have a disease and can be helped, and not written off as being born this way!

Adam M


Great book about the nature of cancer and its enzyme treatment. It also talks about Dr Burzynski and the FDA fiasco.

Theodore Van Oosbree

The deceptive part of the report was the speculation that the increase in pre-frontal cortex neurons happened in utero. This could only be speculative and was probably intended to absolve post utero toxic exposures (e.g., mercury, which can cause abnormal cell growth in the CNS).


A sort of FDA version of the Wakefield witch-hunt, legal patterns are much the same and as with Autism, a nearly 20 year delay for cancer patients....

Burzynski, the Movie

Quite a doumentary in regards to the trillion dollar US cancer industry.

Obviously a therapy that does away with chemo and radiation cannot be allowed to be patented & controlled by one individual.

.....Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration engaged in four Federal Grand Juries spanning over a decade attempting to indict Dr. Burzynski, all of which ended in no finding of fault on his behalf. Finally, Dr. Burzynski was indicted in their 5th Grand Jury in 1995, resulting in two federal trials and two sets of jurors finding him not guilty of any wrongdoing. If convicted, Dr. Burzynski would have faced a maximum of 290 years in a federal prison and $18.5 million in fines.

About eleven Antineoplaston (stolen) patents are now held on the thearapy by the US government and large Pharma interests.

Ralph Toddre

I cannot believe that this study was even published!

Media Scholar

I recall at least one mercury researcher candidly state in sworn testimony that Autism Speaks (NAAR) has lots and lots of ASD brain tissue samples.

Clearly, if this tissue could in any way exonerate Thimerosal-containing vaccines for having a causal role in the American Autism Epidemic the tissue Hg results would not be un-published.

Anne McElroy Dachel

Oh...I forgot....abnormal facial structure, abnormal lungs, and oversized brains. It's incredible what we're expected to shallow!
Anne Dachel, Media

Anne McElroy Dachel

Have you ever noticed how all of these studies come to NOTHING? I mean, we've had research linking autism to older dads, older moms, lack of vitamin D, too much TV watching, prenatal antidepressants, having siblings too close together, living too close to freeways... (and there's more--these are just the ones that immediately come to mind). We'll probably hear nothing more about this. Next week a NEW FINDING WILL BE ANNOUNCED and dutifully picked up by the major media outlets. It's been happening like this FOR YEARS.

Anne Dachel, Media

Donna L.

Thank you for bringing this to light, Katie. It is truly tragic, that parents offer up their children first for a worthless cause (overvaccination) and then offer up their children's remains for yet another worthless cause.

Do you think that autism parents could collectively alter the course of research by refusing to allow their children (or their children's remains) to be used in these worthless brain and genetic studies? I mean, the researchers need subjects, and if parents flat-out refused to allow their children to be subjects of these particular studies, scientists would hit a dead end and have to move in a different (and more meaningful and relevant) direction. Or maybe I'm just hopelessly naive. My days of handing my kid over to any professional for any study or experimentation are long long gone.

Anne McElroy Dachel

Katie, Thank you for the timely piece. I was outraged over this study. It's smoke and mirrors intended only to make parents think mainstream medicine really cares about autism and to change the subject from vaccinations.

Here's what USA Today had to say about it:
"Neurons are generated only during fetal development, specifically between 10 weeks and 20 weeks, Courchesne said. While neurons continue to grow in size during childhood, and brain connections get built and pruned, the number of neurons remains constant from birth.

"That means that whatever goes wrong in autism starts in utero, which should help focus researchers looking for its causes or triggers, including specific genes or prenatal exposures....

"'Now let's find out what genes or what in-utero, non-genetic conditions lead to an excess number of neurons,' he said. ...

"Conducting postmortem brain tissue studies is a lengthy process because there are few brains available to study, Courchesne said. Eight of the 13 children whose brains were studied had drowned.

"'So very seldom do people at that moment make the decision to donate their child's brain tissue for research, and in the absence of brain tissue for research, it goes very slowly,' he said."

Eric Courchesne isn't worried about the staggering numbers. He's continuing the myth that autism is this puzzling disorder that dropped out of the clouds. They're desperate to make it look like kids are born with autism--either because of genetics or prenatal exposures. They're never going to do a study looking at the countless thousands of children who were perfectly healthy and who suddenly and dramatically regressed. They will never do a study comparing the autism rates in fully vaccinated and never vaccinated kids. But the public is growing tired of their nonsense. Courchesne can't tell a single parent how they can prevent their next child from ending up on the spectrum.

I wonder if Courchesne had any interest in the fact that over 60 percent of the autistic brains he studied came from CHILDREN WHO DROWNED. I wonder if he has a clue what it's like to have a child with autism. Does he really care what's happening to a generation of children?

Anne Dachel, Media


Maybe they needed to read this study:

Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve.

Clearly the gut influences biological expression in the brain.

Maybe PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) wasn't peer reviewed enough for them?

So, unless they examine brains of stillbirths, they have no clue when these differences began.



But Scienceblogs won't write about it because they are so pharma- biased.

Lisa @ TACA

How this study makes the headlines across the world is beyond my comprehension. Thanks Katie for writing this summary.

Katie Wright

Ha, that is a great idea, donating intestines rather than brains!


Casanova has also been studying the brains of people with autism. He found that the minicolumns are narrower, with tighter spacing and greater neuron density than controls. In his earlier papers he calls that structure a pathology. After all, if it happens in people with autism, it must be bad. But somebody must have talked to him, because later he examined the brains of three distiguished scientists and found the same structures. It has already been proven that having a child with autism is more likely in familys with scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
So maybe the minicolumns mean that our children should be highly intelligent. As every scientist should know, correlation does not imply causation.

[78] M. Casanova, et al., " Disruption in the inhibitory architecture of the cell minicolumn: implications for autism. ," Neuroscientist, vol. 9, pp. 496–507, 2003.
[79] M. F. Casanova, et al., "Minicolumnar abnormalities in autism," Acta Neuropathologica, vol. 112, pp. 287-303, Sep 2006.
[80] M. F. Casanova, et al., "Comparative minicolumnar morphometry of three distinguished scientists," Autism, vol. 11, pp. 557-569, Nov 2007.


Having more prefrontal cortex neurons than 7 typical children is a sign of introversion, which is not an anomaly. It's a personality trait, not a disorder or mental illness born in about 25% of the population. Several generations ago, I probably wouldn’t have needed to point this out. Back then, introversion was a well-understood, and even well-respected, phenomenon. A world without introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, mathematicians or writers. Research shows that introverts have higher levels of certain types of brain arousal specifically in the prefrontal cortex and are more sensitive to some kinds of stimuli. Introversion is hard-wired in the brain from birth.

The dramatic increase in autism cannot be explained by this personality trait alone because there have always been introverts in the world. They have married and had children just like the 75% of extroverts who make up the rest of the world. But, perhaps, it is this specific trait and the way the brain is wired, that is responsible as to why genetics plays a role in autism; the genes for introversion and the vaccine trigger. Perhaps, stimulation of the immune system, in an introverted, reactive child causes them to be more susceptible to develop autism. Without the vaccine trigger, the sensitive, introverted child may have grown up to be a healthy, intelligent introverted adult.

black and white cat

It's revealing that a lay mother can rip a prominent medical journal's published study to shreds with one hand behind her back. JAMA ought to be ashamed to have put their name on this crap.


Katie, don't donate his brain, donate his intestines. Your son likely does not have brain damage. My son did not respond to diets but after trying 1001 things I think we need to focus on his gut but there are no more ideas about how to do this. I wish there was more gut research looking at NEW cures and healing for the children. The best analogy I can think of is that when you have a cold the disease process is not the red nose. Brain research will not get us much further than genetic research.


I'm not so sure it's the research calling for the conclusions made. When "they" see overgrowth of neurons, they literally jumped to the unscientific conclusion that this overgrowth started prenatally, without understanding that while a measure of truth, what level of development sparks the natural pruning. Again, the newer studies leave much to desire in the way of scientific, and those involved should only report on what they see, not what they "believe" these findings represent. They are guessing and that should be the beginning point of science not a tie in with a conclusion.
Older studies, brought in at the beginning of this war , before fear of losing one's job as a scientist, were leaning in the direction of exposing the timeline , that research had to go, no one is allowed in that arena, the heavies are standing by to take them down. I just pulled one up..a similar small study..dated 2004. This study called for the recognition of an inflamatory process and suggestions of treating autism . What happened, why wasn't this research built upon?


Maybe they will find answers about autism having undergone brain biopsy of those experts who already know everything, including the fact that autism is a genetic disorder and that vaccines are safe...

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