A failure to grasp the affective meaning of actions in autism spectrum disorder subjects

Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, INSERM U960 & DEC, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 08/2009; 47(8-9):1816-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.02.021
Source: PubMed


The ability to grasp emotional messages in everyday gestures and respond to them is at the core of successful social communication. The hypothesis that abnormalities in socio-emotional behavior in people with autism are linked to a failure to grasp emotional significance conveyed by gestures was explored. We measured brain activity using fMRI during perception of fearful or neutral actions and showed that whereas similar activation of brain regions known to play a role in action perception was revealed in both autistics and controls, autistics failed to activate amygdala, inferior frontal gyrus and premotor cortex when viewing gestures expressing fear. Our results support the notion that dysfunctions in this network may contribute significantly to the characteristic communicative impairments documented in autism.

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Available from: Julie Grèzes,
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    • "c o m / l o c a t e / y n i m g regard, research questions have become increasingly complex, leading to ongoing refinements and extensions of DCM for fMRI, such as (i) two-state DCM (Marreiros et al., 2008), allowing for two neuronal states per brain region to model the activity of inhibitory and excitatory populations; (ii) nonlinear DCM (nlDCM; Stephan et al., 2008), which accounts for synaptic gating; i.e., the modulatory influence of a neuronal population on the connection between two other populations; and (iii) stochastic DCM (sDCM; Daunizeau et al., 2009; Friston et al., 2008, 2010), that allows for endogenous (stochastic) fluctuations at the neuronal level. More recently, DCM studies have been conducted in clinical settings in order to gain a better understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders such as major depression (Almeida et al., 2009; Schlösser et al., 2008), autism (Grèzes et al., 2009; Radulescu et al., 2013) or schizophrenia (Deserno et al., 2012; Brodersen et al., 2014; Roiser et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) is a Bayesian framework for inferring effective connectivity among brain regions from neuroimaging data. While the validity of DCM has been investigated in various previous studies, the reliability of DCM parameter estimates across sessions has been examined less systematically. Here, we report results of a software comparison with regard to test-retest reliability of DCM for fMRI, using a challenging scenario where complex models with many parameters were applied to relatively few data points. Specifically, we examined the reliability of different DCM implementations (in terms of the intra-class correlation coefficient, ICC) based on fMRI data from 35 human subjects performing a simple motor task in two separate sessions, one month apart. We constructed DCMs of motor regions with fair to excellent reliability of conventional activation measures. Using classical DCM (cDCM) in SPM5, we found that the test-retest reliability of DCM results was high, both concerning the model evidence (ICC = 0.94) and the model parameter estimates (median ICC = 0.47). However, when using a more recent DCM version (DCM10 in SPM8), test-retest reliability was reduced notably. Analyses indicated that, in our particular case, the prior distributions played a crucial role in this change in reliability across software versions. Specifically, when using cDCM priors for model inversion in DCM10, this not only restored reliability but yielded even better results than in cDCM. Analyzing each component of the objective function in DCM, we found a selective change in the reliability of posterior mean estimates. This suggests that tighter regularization afforded by cDCM priors reduces the possibility of local extrema in the objective function. We conclude this paper with an outlook to ongoing developments for overcoming the software-dependency of reliability observed in this study, including global optimization and empirical Bayesian procedures.
    NeuroImage 05/2015; 117. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.040 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    • "Based on the adult findings [Turella et al., 2012], we did not predict differences based on object presence in our selected areas within the TD group. As for the ASD group, we hypothesized that the frontal components may differentiate object from nonobject directed actions, and that there may be reduced activation in the IFG compared to the TD group, given previous findings [i.e., Bastiaansen et al., 2011; Dapretto et al, 2006; Grèzes et al., 2009; Martineau et al., 2010]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may be in part due to difficulty perceiving and recognizing the actions of others. Evidence from imitation studies, which involves both observation and execution of an action, suggests differences, in individuals with ASD, between the ability to imitate goal-directed actions involving objects (transitive actions) and the ability to imitate actions that do not involve objects (intransitive actions). In the present study, we examined whether there were differences in how ASD adolescents encoded transitive and intransitive actions compared to typically developing (TD) adolescents, by having participants view videos of a hand reaching across a screen toward an object or to where an object would be while functional magnetic resonance images were collected. Analyses focused on areas within the action observation network (AON), which is activated during the observation of actions performed by others. We hypothesized that the AON would differentiate transitive from intransitive actions only in the ASD group. However, results revealed that object presence modulated activity in the right inferior frontal gyrus and supramarginal gyrus of the TD group, a differentiation that was not seen in the ASD group. Furthermore, there were no significant group differences between the TD and ASD groups in any of the conditions. This suggests that there is not a global deficit of the AON in individuals with ASD while observing transitive and intransitive actions. Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Autism Research 01/2015; 8(3). DOI:10.1002/aur.1445 · 4.33 Impact Factor
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    • "In an fMRI study we conducted, atypical processing of emotional expressions in adults with ASD was found to be subtended by a weaker functional connectivity between the AMG and PM (Grèzes et al., 2009). Similarly, Gotts et al. (2012) showed, using a whole-brain functional connectivity approach in fMRI, a decoupling between brain regions in the evaluation of socially relevant signals from motor-related circuits in ASDs. "
    Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference, Edited by Arthur W. Toga, 01/2015: pages 1027-1030; Academic Press: Elsevier.
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