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Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 7;9(1):3892. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40427-7.

Resting-state abnormalities in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A meta-analysis.

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Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China.


The gold standard for clinical assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) relies on assessing behavior via semi-structured play-based interviews and parent interviews. Although these methods show good sensitivity and specificity in diagnosing ASD cases, behavioral assessments alone may hinder the identification of asymptomatic at-risk group. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) could be an appropriate approach to produce objective neural markers to supplement behavioral assessments due to its non-invasive and task-free nature. Previous neuroimaging studies reported inconsistent resting-state abnormalities in ASD, which may be explained by small sample sizes and phenotypic heterogeneity in ASD subjects, and/or the use of different analytical methods across studies. The current study aims to investigate the local resting-state abnormalities of ASD regardless of subject age, IQ, gender, disease severity and methodological differences, using activation likelihood estimation (ALE). MEDLINE/PubMed databases were searched for whole-brain rs-fMRI studies on ASD published until Feb 2018. Eight experiments involving 424 subjects were included in the ALE meta-analysis. We demonstrate two ASD-related resting-state findings: local underconnectivity in the dorsal posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and in the right medial paracentral lobule. This study contributes to uncovering a consistent pattern of resting-state local abnormalities that may serve as potential neurobiological markers for ASD.

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