Resting-state brain network dysfunctions associated with visuomotor impairments in autism spectrum disorder

Zheng Wang, Yan Wang, John A. Sweeney, Qiyong Gong, Su Lui, Matthew W. Mosconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show elevated levels of motor variability that are associated with clinical outcomes. Cortical–cerebellar networks involved in visuomotor control have been implicated in postmortem and anatomical imaging studies of ASD. However, the extent to which these networks show intrinsic functional alterations in patients, and the relationship between intrinsic functional properties of cortical–cerebellar networks and visuomotor impairments in ASD have not yet been clarified. Methods: We examined the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF) of cortical and cerebellar brain regions during resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) in 23 individuals with ASD and 16 typically developing (TD) controls. Regions of interest (ROIs) with ALFF values significantly associated with motor variability were identified for for patients and controls respectively, and their functional connectivity (FC) to each other and to the rest of the brain was examined. Results: For TD controls, greater ALFF in bilateral cerebellar crus I, left superior temporal gyrus, left inferior frontal gyrus, right supramarginal gyrus, and left angular gyrus each were associated with greater visuomotor variability. Greater ALFF in cerebellar lobule VIII was associated with less visuomotor variability. For individuals with ASD, greater ALFF in right calcarine cortex, right middle temporal gyrus (including MT/V5), left Heschl's gyrus, left post-central gyrus, right pre-central gyrus, and left precuneus was related to greater visuomotor variability. Greater ALFF in cerebellar vermis VI was associated with less visuomotor variability. Individuals with ASD and TD controls did not show differences in ALFF for any of these ROIs. Individuals with ASD showed greater posterior cerebellar connectivity with occipital and parietal cortices relative to TD controls, and reduced FC within cerebellum and between lateral cerebellum and pre-frontal and other regions of association cortex. Conclusion: Together, these findings suggest that increased resting oscillations within visuomotor networks in ASD are associated with more severe deficits in controlling variability during precision visuomotor behavior. Differences between individuals with ASD and TD controls in the topography of networks showing relationships to visuomotor behavior suggest atypical patterns of cerebellar–cortical specialization and connectivity in ASD that underlies previously documented visuomotor deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalFrontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 12 2019


  • Amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cortical–cerebellar connectivity
  • Functional connectivity
  • Precision grip
  • Resting-state functional MRI
  • Visuomotor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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