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Diagnostics (Basel). 2019 Mar 21;9(1). pii: E32. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics9010032.

Link-Level Functional Connectivity Neuroalterations in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Developmental Resting-State fMRI Study.

Author information

1
Center for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, 46022 Valencia, Spain. lluisb3@gmail.com.
2
Center for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, 46022 Valencia, Spain. ursulaperezr@gmail.com.
3
Center for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, 46022 Valencia, Spain. dmoratal@eln.upv.es.

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder whose late diagnosis is based on subjective tests. In seeking for earlier diagnosis, we aimed to find objective biomarkers via analysis of resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) images obtained from the Autism Brain Image Data Exchange (ABIDE) database. Thus, we estimated brain functional connectivity (FC) between pairs of regions as the statistical dependence between their neural-related blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signals. We compared FC of individuals with ASD and healthy controls, matched by age and intelligence quotient (IQ), and split into three age groups (50 children, 98 adolescents, and 32 adults), from a developmental perspective. After estimating the correlation, we observed hypoconnectivities in children and adolescents with ASD between regions belonging to the default mode network (DMN). Concretely, in children, FC decreased between the left middle temporal gyrus and right frontal pole (p = 0.0080), and between the left orbitofrontal cortex and right superior frontal gyrus (p = 0.0144). In adolescents, this decrease was observed between bilateral postcentral gyri (p = 0.0012), and between the right precuneus and right middle temporal gyrus (p = 0.0236). These results help to gain a better understanding of the involved regions on autism and its connection with the affected superior cognitive brain functions.

KEYWORDS:

autism; brain functional connectivity; default mode network; full correlation analysis; partial correlation analysis; region of interest analysis; resting-state functional MRI

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