As it stands, Courchesne and other doctors aren't sure what it is about the brain growth that triggers autism. "You could have the brain growing too fast, so maybe neurons grow too rapidly, maybe they generate too many connections in some regions, maybe two few in other regions," Courchesne said.
The pyrenthrin study now also intrigues him. "From my perspective, the finding is very interesting and very important," said Courchesne, who explained that while autism is largely due to genetics, most scientists recognize some outside factors contribute too.
"It's clearly important to understand whether there might be environmental agents that interact with genetics to increase the chances of autism," he said. Now Courchesne hopes there will be more animal models with pyrenthrins and brain growth.