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

Sheeba Arnold Anteraper, Xavier Guell, Marisa O. Hollinshead, Anila D'Mello, Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, Joseph Biederman, Gagan Joshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The combination of structural and functional analyses is a biologically valid approach that offers methodological advantages in autism spectrum disorder (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 voxel-based morphometry (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 VBM served as seed regions of interest (ROI) for resting-state functional-connectivity (RsFc) analysis. Results: 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 gyri (Brodmann area [BA] 21/22, cluster 2) compared with HC. Whole-brain RsFc analysis in high-functioning ASD (HF-ASD) revealed significant hypoconnectivity of the cerebellar VBM cluster with the right cerebral cortical regions of superior parietal lobule (BA 7) and occipital pole (BA 19) (overlapping with dorsal attention and visual networks, respectively). Cerebral cortical VBM cluster (cluster 2) revealed significant hypoconnectivity 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 anticorrelations) with posterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex (default mode network). Conclusions: 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. Our findings indicate that functional differences as indexed by resting-state functional connectivity exist in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and highlight that there is likely a relationship between structural and functional abnormalities in this disorder. Future developments in neuroimaging research should continue investigating structural and associated functional differences in ASD, and in this way complement the behavioral characterization of this disorder, potentially improving diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-376
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Connectivity
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • attention
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • cerebellum
  • functional connectivity
  • resting-state networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Functional Alterations Associated with Structural Abnormalities in Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this