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Mol Autism. 2014 Jun 11;5:35. doi: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-35. eCollection 2014.

Default mode network in young male adults with autism spectrum disorder: relationship with autism spectrum traits.

Author information

1
Developmental Emotional Intelligence, Division of Developmental Higher Brain Functions, Department of Child Development United Graduate School of Child Development, Osaka University, Kanazawa University, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Chiba University and University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan.
2
Developmental Emotional Intelligence, Division of Developmental Higher Brain Functions, Department of Child Development United Graduate School of Child Development, Osaka University, Kanazawa University, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Chiba University and University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Research Center for Child Mental Development, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Biomedical Imaging Research Center, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan.
3
Research Center for Child Mental Development, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Biomedical Imaging Research Center, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan.
4
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Kodaira, Tokyo 187-8553, Japan.
5
Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
6
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan.
7
Research Center for Child Mental Development, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan.
8
Developmental Emotional Intelligence, Division of Developmental Higher Brain Functions, Department of Child Development United Graduate School of Child Development, Osaka University, Kanazawa University, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Chiba University and University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Research Center for Child Mental Development, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-8641, Japan.
9
Developmental Emotional Intelligence, Division of Developmental Higher Brain Functions, Department of Child Development United Graduate School of Child Development, Osaka University, Kanazawa University, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Chiba University and University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Research Center for Child Mental Development, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan.
10
Biomedical Imaging Research Center, University of Fukui, Fukui, Eiheiji 910-1193, Japan ; Department of Cerebral Research, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, Aichi 444-8585, Japan.
11
Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi 466-8550, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Autism spectrum traits are postulated to lie on a continuum that extends between individuals with autism and individuals with typical development (TD). Social cognition properties that are deeply associated with autism spectrum traits have been linked to functional connectivity between regions within the brain's default mode network (DMN). Previous studies have shown that the resting-state functional connectivities (rs-FCs) of DMN are low and show negative correlation with the level of autism spectrum traits in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it is unclear whether individual differences of autism spectrum traits are associated with the strength of rs-FCs of DMN in participants including the general population.

METHODS:

Using the seed-based approach, we investigated the rs-FCs of DMN, particularly including the following two core regions of DMN: the anterior medial prefrontal cortex (aMPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) in 19 young male adults with high-functioning ASD (mean age = 25.3 ± 6.9 years; autism-spectrum quotient (AQ) = 33.4 ± 4.2; full scale IQ (F-IQ) = 109.7 ± 12.4) compared with 21 age- and IQ-matched young male adults from the TD group (mean age = 24.8 ± 4.3 years; AQ = 18.6 ± 5.7; F-IQ = 109.5 ± 8.7). We also analyzed the correlation between the strength of rs-FCs and autism spectrum traits measured using AQ score.

RESULTS:

The strengths of rs-FCs from core regions of DMN were significantly lower in ASD participants than TD participants. Under multiple regression analysis, the strengths of rs-FCs in brain areas from aMPFC seed showed negative correlation with AQ scores in ASD participants and TD participants.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest that the strength of rs-FCs in DMN is associated with autism spectrum traits in the TD population as well as patients with ASD, supporting the continuum view. The rs-FCs of DMN may be useful biomarkers for the objective identification of autism spectrum traits, regardless of ASD diagnosis.

KEYWORDS:

Anterior medial prefrontal cortex (aMPFC); Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Autism spectrum traits; Autism-spectrum quotient (AQ); Default mode network (DMN); Posterior cingulate cortex (PCC); Resting-state functional connectivities (rs-FCs)

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