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Mol Autism. 2014 Feb 6;5(1):8. doi: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-8.

Abnormal lateralization of functional connectivity between language and default mode regions in autism.

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1
Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of Utah, 20 North 1900 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA. andersonjeffs@gmail.com.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Lateralization of brain structure and function occurs in typical development, and abnormal lateralization is present in various neuropsychiatric disorders. Autism is characterized by a lack of left lateralization in structure and function of regions involved in language, such as Broca and Wernicke areas.

METHODS:

Using functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging from a large publicly available sample (n = 964), we tested whether abnormal functional lateralization in autism exists preferentially in language regions or in a more diffuse pattern across networks of lateralized brain regions.

RESULTS:

The autism group exhibited significantly reduced left lateralization in a few connections involving language regions and regions from the default mode network, but results were not significant throughout left- and right-lateralized networks. There is a trend that suggests the lack of left lateralization in a connection involving Wernicke area and the posterior cingulate cortex associates with more severe autism.

CONCLUSIONS:

Abnormal language lateralization in autism may be due to abnormal language development rather than to a deficit in hemispheric specialization of the entire brain.

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