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Neuroimage Clin. 2015 May 1;8:356-66. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2015.04.021. eCollection 2015.

An unbiased Bayesian approach to functional connectomics implicates social-communication networks in autism.

Author information

1
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
2
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA ; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
3
Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience, Child Study Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.

Abstract

Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) studies reveal a complex pattern of hyper- and hypo-connectivity in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Whereas rsfMRI findings tend to implicate the default mode network and subcortical areas in ASD, task fMRI and behavioral experiments point to social dysfunction as a unifying impairment of the disorder. Here, we leverage a novel Bayesian framework for whole-brain functional connectomics that aggregates population differences in connectivity to localize a subset of foci that are most affected by ASD. Our approach is entirely data-driven and does not impose spatial constraints on the region foci or dictate the trajectory of altered functional pathways. We apply our method to data from the openly shared Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) and pinpoint two intrinsic functional networks that distinguish ASD patients from typically developing controls. One network involves foci in the right temporal pole, left posterior cingulate cortex, left supramarginal gyrus, and left middle temporal gyrus. Automated decoding of this network by the Neurosynth meta-analytic database suggests high-level concepts of "language" and "comprehension" as the likely functional correlates. The second network consists of the left banks of the superior temporal sulcus, right posterior superior temporal sulcus extending into temporo-parietal junction, and right middle temporal gyrus. Associated functionality of these regions includes "social" and "person". The abnormal pathways emanating from the above foci indicate that ASD patients simultaneously exhibit reduced long-range or inter-hemispheric connectivity and increased short-range or intra-hemispheric connectivity. Our findings reveal new insights into ASD and highlight possible neural mechanisms of the disorder.

KEYWORDS:

Autism; Bayesian analysis; Brain networks; Functional MRI

PMID:
26106561
PMCID:
PMC4474177
DOI:
10.1016/j.nicl.2015.04.021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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