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Front Hum Neurosci. 2018 Oct 10;12:408. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00408. eCollection 2018.

Increased Functional Connectivity During Emotional Face Processing in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Author information

1
Diagnostic Imaging, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.
2
Neurosciences and Mental Health Program, Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.
3
University Health Network - Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.
4
Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Abstract

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate poor social functioning, which may be related to atypical emotional face processing. Altered functional connectivity among brain regions, particularly involving limbic structures may be implicated. The current magnetoencephalography (MEG) study investigated whole-brain functional connectivity of eight a priori identified brain regions during the implicit presentation of happy and angry faces in 20 7 to 10-year-old children with ASD and 22 typically developing controls. Findings revealed a network of increased alpha-band phase synchronization during the first 400 ms of happy face processing in children with ASD compared to controls. This network of increased alpha-band phase synchronization involved the left fusiform gyrus, right insula, and frontal regions critical for emotional face processing. In addition, greater connectivity strength of the left fusiform gyrus (maximal 85 to 208 ms) and right insula (maximal 73 to 270 ms) following happy face presentation in children with ASD compared to typically developing controls was found. These findings reflect altered neuronal communication in children with ASD only to happy faces during implicit emotional face processing.

KEYWORDS:

ASD; children; emotional face processing; functional connectivity; magnetoencephalography

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