The Brain Basis of Comorbidity in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

  • Melissa K. LicariEmail author
  • Amy Finlay-Jones
  • Jess E. Reynolds
  • Gail A. Alvares
  • Alicia J. Spittle
  • Jenny Downs
  • Andrew J. O. Whitehouse
  • Helen Leonard
  • Kiah L. Evans
  • Kandice Varcin
Comorbidities (D Dewey, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Comorbidities


Purpose of Review

Research examining brain development in neurodevelopmental disorders has largely comprised small-scale studies on individual disorders. Findings have confirmed neurodevelopmental disruption and deviation; however, comorbidity between disorders continues to challenge our understanding of brain-behaviour associations. This review discusses early brain development and the etiological factors that may give rise to atypical developmental trajectories, along with neuroimaging insights into neurodevelopmental disorders.

Recent Findings

Evidence related to the behavioural, neurological, genetic and environmental factors impacting on brain development is examined. Large neuroimaging databases are currently being used to identify early alterations in brain development and areas of divergence and convergence between disorders are reviewed.


Investigative approaches based on diagnostic groups continue to challenge our ability to elucidate regions of the brain linked to behavioural phenotypes, especially those known to be shared across disorders.


Neurodevelopmental disorders Comorbidity Autism spectrum disorder Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Developmental coordination disorder Neuroimaging 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa K. Licari
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy Finlay-Jones
    • 1
  • Jess E. Reynolds
    • 2
  • Gail A. Alvares
    • 1
  • Alicia J. Spittle
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jenny Downs
    • 1
  • Andrew J. O. Whitehouse
    • 1
  • Helen Leonard
    • 1
  • Kiah L. Evans
    • 1
    • 6
  • Kandice Varcin
    • 1
  1. 1.Telethon Kids InstituteThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Murdoch Children’s Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.The Royal Women’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PhysiotherapyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  6. 6.School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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