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Cerebellum. 2013 Oct;12(5):645-56. doi: 10.1007/s12311-013-0475-x.

Altered microstructural connectivity of the superior cerebellar peduncle is related to motor dysfunction in children with autistic spectrum disorders.

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United Graduate School of Child Development, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-2 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Many studies have reported motor impairments in autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). However, the brain mechanism underlying motor impairment in ASD remains unclear. Recent neuroimaging studies have suggested that underconnectivity between the cerebellum and other brain regions contributes to the features of ASD. In this study, we investigated the microstructural integrity of the cerebellar pathways, including the superior, middle, and inferior cerebellar peduncles, of children with and without ASD by using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography to determine whether the microstructural integrity of the cerebellar pathways is related to motor function in children with ASD. Thirteen children with ASD and 11 age-, gender-, handedness-, and IQ-matched typically developing (TD) controls were enrolled in this study. DTI outcome measurements, such as fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD), for the cerebellar pathways were calculated. The Movement Assessment Battery for Children 2 (M-ABC 2) was used for assessing motor functions. There were no significant differences between the two groups in RD. However, compared to the TD subjects, patients with ASD had a significantly lower FA in the right superior cerebellar peduncle and lower AD in the left superior cerebellar peduncle, in addition to a significantly lower score in ball skills and the total test score of M-ABC 2. There was a significant positive correlation between the total test score of M-ABC 2 and FA in the right superior cerebellar peduncle in the ASD group. These findings suggest that the altered microstructural integrity of the superior cerebellar peduncle may be related to motor impairment in ASD.

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