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Brain Connect. 2016 Jun;6(5):415-33. doi: 10.1089/brain.2015.0385. Epub 2016 May 5.

Investigating the Microstructural Correlation of White Matter in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Author information

1
1 Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, Wisconsin.
2
2 Occupational Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, Wisconsin.
3
3 Department of Radiology, University of Utah , Salt Lake City, Utah.
4
4 Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah and Primary Children's Medical Center , Salt Lake City, Utah.
5
5 Department of Neurology, University of Utah , Salt Lake City, Utah.
6
6 Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, University of Utah , Salt Lake City, Utah.
7
7 School of Computing, University of Utah , Salt Lake City, Utah.
8
8 Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of Utah , Salt Lake City, Utah.
9
9 Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University , Provo, Utah.
10
10 Neuroscience Center, Brigham Young University , Provo, Utah.
11
11 Department of Psychiatry, Harvard School of Medicine , Boston, Massachusetts.
12
12 Neurostatistics Laboratory, McLean Hospital , Belmont, Massachusetts.
13
13 Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, Wisconsin.
14
14 Department of Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, Wisconsin.

Abstract

White matter microstructure forms a complex and dynamical system that is critical for efficient and synchronized brain function. Neuroimaging findings in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suggest this condition is associated with altered white matter microstructure, which may lead to atypical macroscale brain connectivity. In this study, we used diffusion tensor imaging measures to examine the extent that white matter tracts are interrelated within ASD and typical development. We assessed the strength of inter-regional white matter correlations between typically developing and ASD diagnosed individuals. Using hierarchical clustering analysis, clustering patterns of the pairwise white matter correlations were constructed and revealed to be different between the two groups. Additionally, we explored the use of graph theory analysis to examine the characteristics of the patterns formed by inter-regional white matter correlations and compared these properties between ASD and typical development. We demonstrate that the ASD sample has significantly less coherence in white matter microstructure across the brain compared to that in the typical development sample. The ASD group also presented altered topological characteristics, which may implicate less efficient brain networking in ASD. These findings highlight the potential of graph theory based network characteristics to describe the underlying networks as measured by diffusion magnetic resonance imaging and furthermore indicates that ASD may be associated with altered brain network characteristics. Our findings are consistent with those of a growing number of studies and hypotheses that have suggested disrupted brain connectivity in ASD.

KEYWORDS:

autism spectrum disorder; brain network; diffusion tensor imaging; graph theory; network analysis; white matter microstructure

PMID:
27021440
PMCID:
PMC4913512
DOI:
10.1089/brain.2015.0385
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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