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Brain Res. 2006 Aug 9;1104(1):160-74. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

Partially enhanced thalamocortical functional connectivity in autism.

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


Based on evidence for thalamic abnormalities in autism, impairments of thalamocortical pathways have been suspected. We examined the functional connectivity between thalamus and cerebral cortex in terms of blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal cross-correlation in 8 male participants with high-functioning autism and matched normal controls, using functional MRI during simple visuomotor coordination. Both groups exhibited widespread connectivity, consistent with known extensive thalamocortical connectivity. In a direct group comparison, overall more extensive connectivity was observed in the autism group, especially in the left insula and in right postcentral and middle frontal regions. Our findings are inconsistent with the hypothesis of general underconnectivity in autism and instead suggest that subcortico-cortical connectivity may be hyperfunctional, potentially compensating for reduced cortico-cortical connectivity.

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