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Brain. 2012 Mar;135(Pt 3):961-75. doi: 10.1093/brain/awr335. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Neural systems for speech and song in autism.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University Medical Centre, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Abstract

Despite language disabilities in autism, music abilities are frequently preserved. Paradoxically, brain regions associated with these functions typically overlap, enabling investigation of neural organization supporting speech and song in autism. Neural systems sensitive to speech and song were compared in low-functioning autistic and age-matched control children using passive auditory stimulation during functional magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging. Activation in left inferior frontal gyrus was reduced in autistic children relative to controls during speech stimulation, but was greater than controls during song stimulation. Functional connectivity for song relative to speech was also increased between left inferior frontal gyrus and superior temporal gyrus in autism, and large-scale connectivity showed increased frontal-posterior connections. Although fractional anisotropy of the left arcuate fasciculus was decreased in autistic children relative to controls, structural terminations of the arcuate fasciculus in inferior frontal gyrus were indistinguishable between autistic and control groups. Fractional anisotropy correlated with activity in left inferior frontal gyrus for both speech and song conditions. Together, these findings indicate that in autism, functional systems that process speech and song were more effectively engaged for song than for speech and projections of structural pathways associated with these functions were not distinguishable from controls.

PMID:
22298195
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3286324
Free PMC Article
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