Synaptic plasticity and non-invasive brain stimulation in autism spectrum disorders

Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Center, The Alfred and Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia. Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children's Hospital, Harvard School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology (Impact Factor: 3.51). 11/2012; 55(1). DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.12042
Source: PubMed


This commentary is on the original article by Jung et al. on pages 83–89 of this issue

Download full-text


Available from: Peter Enticott, Jul 06, 2014
1 Follower
26 Reads
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Most candidate genes and genetic abnormalities linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to play a role in developmental and experience-dependent plasticity. As a possible index of plasticity, we assessed the modulation of motor corticospinal excitability in individuals with Asperger's syndrome (AS) using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We measured the modulatory effects of theta-burst stimulation (TBS) on motor evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by single-pulse TMS in individuals with AS as compared with age-, gender- and IQ-matched neurotypical controls. The effect of TBS lasted significantly longer in the AS group. The duration of the TBS-induced modulation alone enabled the reliable classification of a second study cohort of subjects as AS or neurotypical. The alteration in the modulation of corticospinal excitability in AS is thought to reflect aberrant mechanisms of plasticity, and might provide a valuable future diagnostic biomarker for the disease and ultimately offer a target for novel therapeutic interventions.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 06/2012; 36(6):2782-2788. DOI:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08172.x · 3.18 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Controversy surrounds the distinction between high-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger disorder, but motor abnormalities are associated features of both conditions. This study examined motor cortical inhibition and excitability in HFA and Asperger disorder using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Participants were diagnosed by experienced clinicians strictly according to DSM-IV criteria. Participants with HFA (nine males, two females; mean age 16y 8mo, SD 4y 5mo) or Asperger disorder (11 males, three females; mean age 19y 1mo, SD 4y 2mo) and neurotypical participants (eight males, three females; mean age 19y 0mo, SD 3y 1mo) were administered a paired-pulse TMS paradigm intended to assess motor cortical inhibition and excitability. Responses to TMS were recorded by electromyography. Cortical inhibition was significantly reduced in the HFA group compared with both the Asperger disorder (p<0.001) and neurotypical (p<0.001) groups, suggesting disruption of activity at gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABA(A)) receptors. There was no group difference in cortical excitability. Cortical inhibition deficits may underlie motor dysfunction in autism, and perhaps even relate to specific clinical symptoms (e.g. repetitive behaviours). These findings provide novel evidence for a possible neurobiological dissociation between HFA and Asperger disorder based on GABAergic function.
    Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 03/2010; 52(8):e179-83. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03665.x · 3.51 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Aim We aimed to investigate the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP)-like plasticity by paired associative stimulation (PAS) in patients with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome (HFA/AS). Method PAS with an interstimulus interval between electrical and transcranial magnetic stimulation of 25 ms (PAS25) was performed in patients with HFA/AS (n=9; eight males, one female; mean age 17y 11mo, SD 4y 5mo) and in typically developing age-matched volunteers (n=9; five males, four females; mean age 22y 4mo, SD 5y 2mo). The amplitude of motor-evoked potentials was measured before PAS25, immediately after stimulation, and 30 minutes and 60 minutes later. A PAS protocol adapted to individual N20 latency (PASN20+2) was performed in six additional patients with HFA/AS. Short-interval intracortical inhibition was measured using paired-pulse stimulation. Results In contrast to the typically developing participants, the patients with HFA/AS did not show a significant increase in motor-evoked potentials after PAS25. This finding could also be demonstrated after adaptation for N20 latency. Short-interval intracortical inhibition of patients with HFA/AS was normal compared with the comparison group and did not correlate with PAS effect. Interpretation Our results show a significant impairment of LTP-like plasticity induced by PAS in individuals with HFA/AS compared with typically developing participants. This finding is in accordance with results from animal studies as well as human studies. Impaired LTP-like plasticity in patients with HFA/AS points towards reduced excitatory synaptic connectivity and deficits in sensory-motor integration in these patients.
    Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 01/2013; 55(1):83-9. DOI:10.1111/dmcn.12012 · 3.51 Impact Factor