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Cortex. 2011 Jul-Aug;47(7):863-73. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.07.006. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

The anatomy of the callosal and visual-association pathways in high-functioning autism: a DTI tractography study.

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, PA 15213, USA.


There is increasing recognition that many of the core behavioral impairments that characterize autism potentially emerge from poor neural synchronization across nodes comprising dispersed cortical networks. A likely candidate for the source of this atypical functional connectivity in autism is an alteration in the structural integrity of intra- and inter-hemispheric white matter (WM) tracts that form large-scale cortical networks. To test this hypothesis, in a group of adults with high-functioning autism (HFA) and matched control participants, we used diffusion tensor tractography to compare the structural integrity of three intra-hemispheric visual-association WM tracts, the inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), the inferior fronto-occipito fasciculus (IFOF) and the uncinate fasciculus (UF), with the integrity of three sub-portions of the major inter-hemispheric fiber tract, the corpus callosum. Compared with the control group, the HFA group evinced an increase in the volume of the intra-hemispheric fibers, particularly in the left hemisphere, and a reduction in the volume of the forceps minor (F-Mi) and body of the corpus callosum. The reduction in the volume of the F-Mi also correlated with an increase in repetitive and stereotypical behavior as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Interview. These findings suggest that the abnormalities in the integrity of key inter- and intra-hemispheric WM tracts may underlie the atypical information processing observed in these individuals.

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