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Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;160(10):1847-62.

Abnormal variability and distribution of functional maps in autism: an FMRI study of visuomotor learning.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, Childrens Hospital Reserch Children, La Jolla, California 92120, USA. amueller@sciences.sdsu.edu

Erratum in

  • Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;161(7):1320.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Autism is a neurally based psychiatric disorder, but there is no consensus regarding the underlying neurofunctional abnormalities. Previous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of simple movement suggested individually variable and scattered functional brain organization in autism. The authors examined whether such abnormalities generalize to multimodal processing (visually driven motor sequence learning).

METHOD:

Eight male autistic patients and eight comparison subjects matched with the patients on age, gender, and handedness were examined by using fMRI while they performed finger press movements prompted by visually presented repeating six-digit sequences. Hemodynamic responses to the six-digit sequences were statistically compared to responses to single-digit stimuli in one experiment and to regular six-digit sequences in another experiment.

RESULTS:

Both groups showed activations in bilateral premotor, superior parietal, and occipital cortices in both experiments. Task-by-group interactions showed that superior parietal activations were less pronounced in the autism group, whereas prefrontal cortex and more posterior parietal loci showed greater activation in the autism group than in the comparison group. The distances between Individual subjects' activation peaks and the groupwise peak were greater in the autism group than in the comparison group.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results support earlier findings of abnormal variability and scatter of functional maps in autism. They are consistent with evidence from other studies suggesting early-onset disturbances in the development of cerebello-thalamo-cortical pathways in autism.

PMID:
14514501
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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