Functional Alterations Associated with Structural Abnormalities in Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Functional Alterations Associated with Structural Abnormalities in Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Publication date: Jun 10, 2020

The combination of structural and functional analyses is a biologically valid approach that offers methodological advantages in ASD neuroimaging science. The paucity of studies combining these methods constitutes an important knowledge gap. In this study, we investigate structural abnormalities and their associated functional differences in a developmentally homogeneous ASD cohort. ? Methods: Whole-brain VBM analyses were performed on 28 ASD participants and 38 age-matched typically developing healthy controls (HC) to derive gray matter (GM) volume differences. The anatomically relevant clusters identified by voxel-based morphometry (VBM) served as seed regions of interest (ROI) for resting-state functional-connectivity (RsFc) analysis.

Whole-brain VBM analyses revealed significant right lateralized GM volume abnormality in the ASD group with lower GM volumes in cerebellar lobules VIIb/VIIIa (cluster 1) and significantly higher GM volumes in posterior middle/superior temporal gyrii (BA 21/22, cluster 2) as compared to HC. Whole-brain RsFc analysis in HF-ASD revealed significant hypo-connectivity of the cerebellar VBM cluster with the right cerebral cortical regions of superior parietal lobule (BA7) and occipital pole (BA19) (overlapping with dorsal attention and visual networks, respectively). Cerebral cortical VBM cluster (cluster 2) revealed significant hypo-connectivity in HF-ASD with other task-positive cerebral cortical including the left lateral prefrontal cortex (frontoparietal network) and some aspects of the insula (ventral attention network) and ectopic positive connectivity (lack of anti-correlations) with posterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex (default mode network).

The cerebro-cerebellar intrinsic functional dysconnectivity based on the whole-brain VBM-derived ROIs may advance our understanding of the compensatory mechanisms associated with ASD and offer cerebellum as a potential target for diagnostic, predictive, prognostic, and therapeutic interventions in ASD. Our findings also provide additional support indicating that functional abnormalities as indexed by RsFc exist in ASD, and highlight that there is likely a relationship between structural and functional abnormalities in this disorder. ?.

Concepts Keywords
Autism Spectrum Disorder Spectrum Disorder
Brain Brain
Cerebellar Neuroscience
Cerebellum Organ systems
Cerebro Neuroimaging
Cohort Psychiatric diagnosis
Cortical Gyri
Default Mode Network Developmental neuroscience
Dorsal Voxel-based morphometry
Ectopic Autism spectrum
Functional Connectivity Posterior cingulate cortex
Gray Matter Resting state fMRI
HF Cerebral cortex
Lateral Prefrontal Cortex
Medial Prefrontal Cortex
Occipital Pole
Posterior Cingulate Cortex
Prefrontal Cortex
Task Positive


Type Source Name
disease MESH Abnormalities
disease MESH Autism Spectrum Disorder
disease MESH visual
disease MESH Autism

Original Article

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