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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.

Author information

1
Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. waylau@eduhk.hk.
2
Department of Special Education and Counselling, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
3
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China.

Abstract

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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