Article

Atypical recruitment of medial prefrontal cortex in autism spectrum disorders: An fMRI study of two executive function tasks

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, University College London, London, UK.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.45). 02/2008; 46(9):2281-91. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.03.025
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent studies have suggested an uneven profile of executive dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). For example, some authors have reported deficits on newly developed tests of executive function sensitive to rostral prefrontal function, despite spared, or even superior, performance on other tests. We investigated the performance of a group of high-functioning participants with ASD (N=15) and an age- and IQ-matched control group (N=18) on two executive function tests, whilst undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Behaviourally, there were no significant differences between the two groups. In a classical test of executive function (random response generation), BOLD signal differed between the groups in the cerebellum but not in the frontal lobes. However, on a new test of executive function (selection between stimulus-oriented and stimulus-independent thought), the ASD group exhibited significantly greater signal-change in medial rostral prefrontal cortex (especially Brodmann Area 10) in the comparison of stimulus-oriented versus stimulus-independent attention. In addition, the new test (but not the classical test) provided evidence for abnormal functional organisation of medial prefrontal cortex in ASD. These results underline the heterogeneity of different tests of executive function, and suggest that executive functioning in ASD is associated with task-specific functional change.

2 Bookmarks
 · 
99 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social cognition. The biological basis of deficits in social cognition in ASD, and their difficulty in processing emotional face information in particular, remains unclear. Atypical communication within and between brain regions has been reported in ASD. Interregional phase-locking is a neurophysiological mechanism mediating communication among brain areas and is understood to support cognitive functions. In the present study we investigated interregional magnetoencephalographic phase synchronization during the perception of emotional faces in adolescents with ASD.
    Molecular Autism 01/2014; 5(1):51. · 5.49 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Rostral prefrontal cortex (RPFC) has increased in size and changed in terms of its cellular organisation during primate evolution. In parallel emerged the ability to detach oneself from the immediate environment to process abstract thoughts and solve problems and to understand other individuals’ thoughts and intentions. Rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC) is thought to play an important role in supporting the integration of abstract, often self-generated, thoughts. Thoughts can be temporally abstract and relate to long term goals, or past or future events, or relationally abstract and focus on the relationships between representations rather than simple stimulus features. Behavioural studies have provided evidence of a prolonged development of the cognitive functions associated with RLPFC, in particular logical and relational reasoning, but also episodic memory retrieval and prospective memory. Functional and structural neuroimaging studies provide further support for a prolonged development of RLPFC during adolescence, with some evidence of increased specialisation of RLPFC activation for relational integration and aspects of episodic memory retrieval. Topics for future research will be discussed, such as the role of medial RPFC in processing abstract thoughts in the social domain, the possibility of training abstract thinking in the domain of reasoning, and links to education.
    Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 10/2014; · 3.71 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study examines whether deficits in visual information processing in autism-spectrum disorder (ASD) can be offset by the recruitment of brain structures involved in selective attention. During functional MRI, 12 children with ASD and 19 control participants completed a selective attention one-back task in which images of faces and houses were superimposed. When attending to faces, the ASD group showed increased activation relative to control participants within multiple prefrontal cortex areas, including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). DLPFC activation in ASD was associated with increased response times for faces. These data suggest that prefrontal cortex activation may represent a compensatory mechanism for diminished visual information processing abilities in ASD.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 09/2014; · 3.34 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
49 Downloads
Available from
May 22, 2014