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Neuroimage. 2005 Apr 15;25(3):916-25.

Reduced functional connectivity between V1 and inferior frontal cortex associated with visuomotor performance in autism.

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  • 1Brain Development Imaging Laboratory, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92120, USA.

Abstract

Some recent evidence has suggested abnormalities of the dorsal stream and possibly the mirror neuron system in autism, which may be responsible for impairments of joint attention, imitation, and secondarily for language delays. The current study investigates functional connectivity along the dorsal stream in autism, examining interregional blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal cross-correlation during visuomotor coordination. Eight high-functioning autistic men and eight handedness and age-matched controls were included. Visually prompted button presses were performed with the preferred hand. For each subject, functional connectivity was computed in terms of BOLD signal correlation with the mean time series in bilateral visual area 17. Our hypothesis of reduced dorsal stream connectivity in autism was only in part confirmed. Functional connectivity with superior parietal areas was not significantly reduced. However, the autism group showed significantly reduced connectivity with bilateral inferior frontal area 44, which is compatible with the hypothesis of mirror neuron defects in autism. More generally, our findings suggest that dorsal stream connectivity in autism may not be fully functional.

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