Article

Decreased Interhemispheric Functional Connectivity in Autism

Department of Neuroradiology, University of Utah, 1A71 School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.
Cerebral Cortex (Impact Factor: 8.31). 10/2010; 21(5):1134-46. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhq190
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The cortical underconnectivity theory asserts that reduced long-range functional connectivity might contribute to a neural mechanism for autism. We examined resting-state blood oxygen level-dependent interhemispheric correlation in 53 males with high-functioning autism and 39 typically developing males from late childhood through early adulthood. By constructing spatial maps of correlation between homologous voxels in each hemisphere, we found significantly reduced interhemispheric correlation specific to regions with functional relevance to autism: sensorimotor cortex, anterior insula, fusiform gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, and superior parietal lobule. Observed interhemispheric connectivity differences were better explained by diagnosis of autism than by potentially confounding neuropsychological metrics of language, IQ, or handedness. Although both corpus callosal volume and gray matter interhemispheric connectivity were significantly reduced in autism, no direct relationship was observed between them, suggesting that structural and functional metrics measure different aspects of interhemispheric connectivity. In the control but not the autism sample, there was decreasing interhemispheric correlation with subject age. Greater differences in interhemispheric correlation were seen for more lateral regions in the brain. These findings suggest that long-range connectivity abnormalities in autism are spatially heterogeneous and that transcallosal connectivity is decreased most in regions with functions associated with behavioral abnormalities in autism. Autism subjects continue to show developmental differences in interhemispheric connectivity into early adulthood.

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