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Behav Res Ther. 2017 Jun;93:55-66. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.03.014. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

Brain responses to biological motion predict treatment outcome in young adults with autism receiving Virtual Reality Social Cognition Training: Preliminary findings.

Author information

1
Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute, The George Washington University and Children's National Health System, Washington, DC 20052, USA; Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA. Electronic address: danielyang@gwu.edu.
2
Center for BrainHealth, The University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX 75235, USA.
3
Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
4
Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute, The George Washington University and Children's National Health System, Washington, DC 20052, USA.

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by remarkable heterogeneity in social, communication, and behavioral deficits, creating a major barrier in identifying effective treatments for a given individual with ASD. To facilitate precision medicine in ASD, we utilized a well-validated biological motion neuroimaging task to identify pretreatment biomarkers that can accurately forecast the response to an evidence-based behavioral treatment, Virtual Reality-Social Cognition Training (VR-SCT). In a preliminary sample of 17 young adults with high-functioning ASD, we identified neural predictors of change in emotion recognition after VR-SCT. The predictors were characterized by the pretreatment brain activations to biological vs. scrambled motion in the neural circuits that support (a) language comprehension and interpretation of incongruent auditory emotions and prosody, and (b) processing socio-emotional experience and interpersonal affective information, as well as emotional regulation. The predictive value of the findings for individual adults with ASD was supported by regression-based multivariate pattern analyses with cross validation. To our knowledge, this is the first pilot study that shows neuroimaging-based predictive biomarkers for treatment effectiveness in adults with ASD. The findings have potentially far-reaching implications for developing more precise and effective treatments for ASD.

KEYWORDS:

Autism; Biological motion; Emotion recognition; Intervention; Predictive biomarker; Theory of mind; Virtual reality; fMRI

PMID:
28384509
DOI:
10.1016/j.brat.2017.03.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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