[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis is often used to access services. We investigated whether ASD diagnostic outcome varied when DSM-5 was used compared to ICD-10R and DSM-IV-TR in a clinical sample of 150 intellectually able adults. Of those diagnosed with an ASD using ICD-10R, 56 % met DSM-5 ASD criteria. A further 19 % met DSM-5 (draft) criteria for Social Communication Disorder. Of those diagnosed with Autistic Disorder/Asperger Syndrome on DSM-IV-TR, 78 % met DSM-5 ASD criteria. Sensitivity of DSM-5 was significantly increased by reducing the number of criteria required for a DSM-5 diagnosis, or by rating 'uncertain' criteria as 'present', without sacrificing specificity. Reduced rates of ASD diagnosis may mean some ASD individuals will be unable to access clinical services.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 03/2013; · 3.06 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dysfunctional glutamatergic neurotransmission has been implicated in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, relatively few studies have directly measured brain glutamate in ASD adults, or related variation in glutamate to clinical phenotype. We therefore set out to investigate brain glutamate levels in adults with an ASD, comparing these to healthy controls and also comparing results between individuals at different points on the spectrum of symptom severity. We recruited 28 adults with ASD and 14 matched healthy controls. Of those with ASD, 15 fulfilled the 'narrowly' defined criteria for typical autism, whereas 13 met the 'broader phenotype'. We measured the concentration of the combined glutamate and glutamine signal (Glx), and other important metabolites, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in two brain regions implicated in ASD-the basal ganglia (including the head of caudate and the anterior putamen) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-as well as in a parietal cortex 'control' region. Individuals with ASD had a significant decrease (P<0.001) in concentration of Glx in the basal ganglia, and this was true in both the 'narrow' and 'broader' phenotype. Also, within the ASD sample, reduced basal ganglia Glx was significantly correlated with increased impairment in social communication (P=0.013). In addition, there was a significant reduction in the concentration of other metabolites such as choline, creatine (Cr) and N-acetylaspartate (NAA) in the basal ganglia. In the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, Cr and NAA were reduced (P<0.05), although Glx was not. There were no detectable differences in Glx, or any other metabolite, in the parietal lobe control region. There were no significant between-group differences in age, gender, IQ, voxel composition or data quality. In conclusion, individuals across the spectrum of ASD have regionally specific abnormalities in subcortical glutamatergic neurotransmission that are associated with variation in social development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Children with conduct disorder (CD) are at increased risk of developing antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and psychopathy in adulthood. The biological basis for this is poorly understood. A preliminary diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) study of psychopathic antisocial adults reported significant differences from controls in the fractional anisotropy (FA) of the uncinate fasciculus (UF), a white-matter tract that connects the amygdala to the frontal lobe. However, it is unknown whether developmental abnormalities are present in the UF of younger individuals with CD.Method
We used DT-MRI tractography to investigate, for the first time, the microstructural integrity of the UF in adolescents with CD, and age-related differences in this tract. We compared FA and perpendicular diffusivity of the UF in 27 adolescents with CD and 16 healthy controls (12 to 19 years old) who did not differ significantly in age, IQ or substance use history. To confirm that these findings were specific to the UF, the same measurements were extracted from two non-limbic control tracts. Participants in the CD group had a history of serious aggressive and violent behaviour, including robbery, burglary, grievous bodily harm and sexual assault. RESULTS: Individuals with CD had a significantly increased FA (p=0.006), and reduced perpendicular diffusivity (p=0.002), in the left UF. Furthermore, there were significant age-related between-group differences in perpendicular diffusivity of the same tract (Zobs=2.40, p=0.01). Controls, but not those with CD, showed significant age-related maturation. There were no significant between-group differences in any measure within the control tracts. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents with CD have significant differences in the 'connectivity' and maturation of UF.
Psychological Medicine 05/2012; · 5.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with repetitive behaviours and often also with hyperactivity, aggression, self-injurious behaviour, irritability and lability of mood. There is emerging evidence that aripiprazole, an antipsychotic with partial agonist dopaminergic effect, may be effective in the treatment of these challenging behaviours. Nevertheless, there is little evidence for their efficacy in adults with ASD.
The aim of this article is to present preliminary data on the use of aripiprazole in the treatment of challenging behaviour in the setting of ASD.
We present a consecutive series of five inpatients of normal intelligence with challenging behaviour associated with ASD, diagnosed according to ICD-10 criteria, which was resistant to treatment with other medical and behavioural interventions and which was treated with aripiprazole.
Four out of five patients were classified as "much improved" or "very much improved" according to the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale. Aripiprazole caused akathisia, at a dose of 30 mg in the one patient who was not classified as a responder but was otherwise well tolerated.
This is the first case series of adults with ASD presenting with challenging behaviour who have been treated with aripiprazole. While the results are promising, controlled trials are required to confirm the findings.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been proposed that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have abnormal morphometry and development of the amygdala and hippocampus (AH). However, previous reports are inconsistent, perhaps because they included people of different ASD diagnoses, ages, and health. We compared, using magnetic resonance imaging, the in vivo anatomy of the AH in 32 healthy individuals with Asperger syndrome (12-47 years) and 32 healthy controls who did not differ significantly in age or IQ. We measured bulk (gray + white matter) volume of the AH using manual tracing (MEASURE). We first compared the volume of AH between individuals with Asperger syndrome and controls and then investigated age-related differences. We compared differences in anatomy before, and after, correcting for whole brain size. There was no significant between group differences in whole brain volume. However, individuals with Asperger syndrome had a significantly larger raw bulk volume of total (P<0.01), right (P<0.01), and left amygdala (P<0.05); and when corrected for overall brain size, total (P<0.05), and right amygdala (P<0.01). There was a significant group difference in aging of left amygdala; controls, but not individuals with Asperger syndrome, had a significant age-related increase in volume (r = 0.486, P<0.01, and r = 0.007, P = 0.97, z = 1.995). There were no significant group differences in volume or age-related effects in hippocampus. Individuals with Asperger syndrome have significant differences from controls in bulk volume and aging of the amygdala.
Autism Research 09/2011; 5(1):3-12. · 3.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional neuroimaging supports the hypothesis that auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) in schizophrenia result from altered functional connectivity between perisylvian language regions, although the extent to which AVH are also associated with an altered tract anatomy is less clear.
Twenty-eight patients with schizophrenia subdivided into 17 subjects with a history of AVH and 11 without a history of hallucinations and 59 age- and IQ-matched healthy controls were recruited. The number of streamlines, fractional anisotropy (FA), and mean diffusivity were measured along the length of the arcuate fasciculus and its medial and lateral components.
Patients with schizophrenia had bilateral reduction of FA relative to controls in the arcuate fasciculi (p < .001). Virtual dissection of the subcomponents of the arcuate fasciculi revealed that these reductions were specific to connections between posterior temporal and anterior regions in the inferior frontal and parietal lobe. Also, compared with controls, the reduction in FA of these tracts was highest, and bilateral, in patients with AVH, but in patients without AVH, this reduction was reported only on the left.
These findings point toward a supraregional network model of AVH in schizophrenia. They support the hypothesis that there may be selective vulnerability of specific anatomical connections to posterior temporal regions in schizophrenia and that extensive bilateral damage is associated with a greater vulnerability to AVH. If confirmed by further studies, these findings may advance our understanding of the anatomical factors that are protective against AVH and predictive of a treatment response.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fragile X Syndrome (FraX) is caused by the expansion of a single trinucleotide gene sequence (CGG) on the X chromosome, and is a leading cause of learning disability (mental retardation) worldwide. Relatively few studies, however, have examined the neuroanatomical abnormalities associated with FraX. Of those that are available many included mixed gender populations, combined FraX children and adults into one sample, and employed manual tracing techniques which measures bulk volume of particular regions. Hence, there is relatively little information on differences in grey and white matter content across whole brain. We employed magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain anatomy in 17 adult males with FraX and 18 healthy controls that did not differ significantly in age. Data were analysed using stereology and VBM to compare (respectively) regional brain bulk volume, and localised grey/white matter content. Using stereology we found that FraX males had a significant increase in bulk volume bilaterally of the caudate nucleus and parietal lobes and of the right brainstem, but a significant decrease in volume of the left frontal lobe. Our complimentary VBM analysis revealed an increased volume of grey matter in fronto-striatal regions (including bilaterally in the caudate nucleus), and increased white matter in regions extending from the brainstem to the parahippocampal gyrus, and from the left cingulate cortex extending into the corpus callosum. People with FraX have regionally specific differences in brain anatomy from healthy controls with enlargement of the caudate nuclei that persists into adulthood.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies in postmenopausal women have reported that estrogen treatment (ET) modulates the risk for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). It has recently been hypothesized that there may be a "critical period" around the time of menopause during which the prescription of ET may reduce the risk of developing AD in later life. This effect may be most significant in women under 49 years old. Furthermore, prescription of ET after this point may have a neutral or negative effect, particularly when initiated in women over 60-65 years old. In this paper, we review recent studies that use in vivo techniques to analyze the neurobiological mechanisms that might underpin estrogen's effects on the brain postmenopause. Consistent with the "critical period" hypothesis, these studies suggest that the positive effects of estrogen are most robust in young women and in older women who had initiated ET around the time of menopause.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 09/2010; 1205:245-53. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's Dementia (AD) compared to men. It has been postulated that this risk may be modulated by a reduction in the neuroprotective effects of estrogen on the brain in the early postmenopausal period. This view is supported by, for example, findings that ovariectomy in younger women (i.e. prior to menopause) significantly increases the risk for the development of memory problems and AD in later life. However, the biological basis underlying these cognitive changes is still poorly understood. Our aim in the current study was to understand the interactive effects of acute, pharmacological-induced menopause (after Gonadotropin Hormone Releasing Hormone agonist (GnRHa) treatment) and scopolamine (a cholinergic antagonist used to model the memory decline associated with aging and AD) on brain functioning. To this end we used fMRI to study encoding during a Delayed Match to Sample (DMTS) (visual working memory) task. We report a relative attenuation in BOLD response brought about by scopolamine in regions that included bilateral prefrontal cortex and the left parahippocampal gyrus. Further, this was greater in women post-GnRHa than in women whose ovaries were functional. Our results also indicate that following pharmacological-induced menopause, cholinergic depletion produces a more significant behavioural deficit in overall memory performance, as manifest by increased response time. These findings suggest that acute loss of ovarian hormones exacerbate the effects of cholinergic depletion on a memory-related, behavioural measure, which is dependent on fronto-temporal brain regions. Overall, our findings point to a neural network by which acute loss of ovarian function may interact to negatively impact encoding.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dysconnectivity theories of schizophrenia would suggest that the connectivity of the cerebellum is impaired and that the impairment may be restricted to certain tracts. Attempts to examine the structural connectivity of the cerebellum using diffusion tensor imaging have yielded conflicting results. However, previous studies have employed region-of-interest approaches or have used small or unmatched samples, with a consequent risk of type II error.
We conducted an appropriately powered case-control study of 33 patients with schizophrenia and 33 matched healthy control subjects. We used tractography to dissect the four white matter tracts of the cerebellum and measured fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) over each tract for each subject.
Repeated-measures analysis of variance found that FA was lower in the schizophrenia group compared with the control group, but there were no tract-specific differences between the groups. Mean diffusivity did not differ between the groups.
Though structural connectivity is impaired in the cerebellum, it is not local to any particular tract but appears to have a wider, possibly global, distribution. Reduced fractional anisotropy with normal MD would point to the differences being due to disordered neuronal architecture rather than disordered myelination.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychopathy is strongly associated with serious criminal behaviour (for example, rape and murder) and recidivism. However, the biological basis of psychopathy remains poorly understood. Earlier studies suggested that dysfunction of the amygdala and/or orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) may underpin psychopathy. Nobody, however, has ever studied the white matter connections (such as the uncinate fasciculus (UF)) linking these structures in psychopaths. Therefore, we used in vivo diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) tractography to analyse the microstructural integrity of the UF in psychopaths (defined by a Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) score of > or = 25) with convictions that included attempted murder, manslaughter, multiple rape with strangulation and false imprisonment. We report significantly reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) (P<0.003), an indirect measure of microstructural integrity, in the UF of psychopaths compared with age- and IQ-matched controls. We also found, within psychopaths, a correlation between measures of antisocial behaviour and anatomical differences in the UF. To confirm that these findings were specific to the limbic amygdala-OFC network, we also studied two 'non-limbic' control tracts connecting the posterior visual and auditory areas to the amygdala and the OFC, and found no significant between-group differences. Lastly, to determine that our findings in UF could not be totally explained by non-specific confounds, we carried out a post hoc comparison with a psychiatric control group with a past history of drug abuse and institutionalization. Our findings remained significant. Taken together, these results suggest that abnormalities in a specific amygdala-OFC limbic network underpin the neurobiological basis of psychopathy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies suggest that estrogen therapy (ET) either improves or has a neutral effect on the structural integrity of neural tissue in postmenopausal women. The inconsistency in the findings of previous studies is likely to be due to a variety of methodological factors. In this study, we attempted to overcome many of these factors.
We used magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry to study the long-term effects of ET commenced immediately postmenopause on age-related differences in (1) normalized lobar brain volumes and (2) regional gray and white matter concentrations. We included 61 healthy women: 23 young, 19 postmenopausal long-term ET users (who had started ET around the time of menopause) and 19 postmenopausal ET never-users.
We report that ET users did not differ significantly from never-users in age, duration of menopause, general intelligence, mnemonic function or apolipoprotein E allele frequency. Compared to young women, both ET users and never-users had significantly smaller normalized volumes of whole brain and left and right frontal lobes, but ET users did not differ significantly from never-users in bulk brain volumes. Compared to young women and ET users, never-users had significantly lower gray matter concentration bilaterally in orbitofrontal cortices and cerebellum, right inferior frontal and precentral cortices, and left paracentral cortex.
These findings suggest that initiation of ET around the time of menopause may modulate age-related differences in regional gray matter concentration. The functional significance of our findings remains unknown.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) than men. This has contributed to the hypothesis that the menopause may contribute to the cascade of pathological processes leading to AD. Studies into the role of oestrogen therapy (OT) on the prevention and treatment of AD have led to equivocal findings. In summary, these studies have suggested that OT may protect against AD if it is given to younger women around the time of the menopause (the 'critical period' hypothesis). However, it may have a negative or neutral effect if it is prescribed to women after this time. This chapter will discuss some of the putative biological mechanisms that may underlie these effects.
Best practice & research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology 12/2008; 23(1):53-61. · 1.87 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whilst acute loss of ovarian function is associated with memory deficits, the biological basis of this is poorly understood. We have previously reported that acute loss of function during Gonadotropin Hormone Releasing Hormone agonists (GnRHa) treatment is associated with impaired verbal memory and a disruption of corresponding left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) during the encoding stage. In the current study, we provide a critical extension to this work by determining whether this memory deficit is reversible following normalization of ovarian function. To do this we carried out a further imaging study using the same verbal memory recognition task after cessation of GnRHa-induced ovarian suppression.
We used event-related fMRI to study verbal episodic memory performance and brain activation at the LIFG in 13 healthy pre-menopausal women pre-, during, and post-acute ovarian hormone suppression using GnRHa.
Following resolution of acute GnRHa-induced ovarian suppression, verbal recognition scores returned to their initial levels and this restoration was associated with a restored level of left frontal activation during successful encoding of words.
Our findings suggest that the memory deficits associated with acute ovarian suppression are reversed following resolution of normal ovarian function and are associated with reversible attenuation of LIFG activation during encoding. These findings lend further support to the hypothesis that memory difficulties reported by some women following acute ovarian hormone withdrawal are reversible and may have a clear neurobiological basis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that loss of ovarian function following ovariectomy is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, the biological basis of this risk remains poorly understood. We carried out an fMRI study into the interaction between loss of ovarian function (after Gonadotropin Hormone Releasing Hormone agonist (GnRHa) treatment) and scopolamine (a cholinergic antagonist used to model the memory decline associated with aging and AD). Behaviorally, cholinergic depletion produced a deficit in verbal recognition performance in both GnRHa-treated women and wait list controls, but only GnRHa-treated women made more false positive errors with cholinergic depletion. Similarly, cholinergic depletion produced a decrease in activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG; Brodmann area 45)--a brain region implicated in retrieving word meaning--in both groups, and activation in this area was further reduced following GnRHa treatment. These findings suggest biological mechanisms through which ovarian hormone suppression may interact with the cholinergic system and the LIFG. Furthermore, this interaction may provide a useful model to help explain reports of increased risk for cognitive decline and AD in women following ovariectomy.
Hormones and Behavior 09/2008; 55(1):41-9. · 3.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gonadotropin Hormone Releasing Hormone agonists (GnRHa) produce an acute decline in ovarian hormone production leading to a 'pseudo' menopause. This is therapeutically useful in the management of a variety of gynaecological conditions but also serves as a powerful model to study the effects of ovarian hormones on cognition. Animal and human behavioral studies report that memory is particularly sensitive to the effects ovarian hormone suppression (e.g. post GnRHa). Further, it has recently been reported that ovariectomy in young women increases the risk of cognitive impairment in later life. However, the underlying brain networks and/or stages of memory processing that might be modulated by acute ovarian hormone suppression remain poorly understood. We used event-related fMRI to examine the effect of GnRHa on visual working memory (VWM). Neuroimaging outcomes from 17 pre-menopausal healthy women were assessed at baseline and 8 weeks after GnRHa treatment. Seventeen matched wait-listed volunteers served as the control group and were assessed at similar intervals during the late follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. We report GnRHa was associated with attenuation of left parahippocampal (BA 35) and middle temporal gyri (BA 21 ,22, 39) activation, with a significant group-by-time interaction at left precuneus (BA 7) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) (BA 31) at encoding, and with cerebellar activation at recognition in the context of unimpaired behavioral responses. Our study suggests that acute ovarian hormone withdrawal following GnRHa, and perhaps at other times, (e.g. following surgical menopause and postpartum) alters the neural circuitry underlying performance of VWM.
Hormones and Behavior 07/2008; 54(1):47-59. · 3.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women frequently complain of memory problems at times in their reproductive lives that are associated with changes in estrogen concentration (e.g. around menopause and childbirth). Further, behavioural studies suggest that memory performance may fluctuate across the menstrual cycle. For example, performance on verbal tasks has been reported to be greatest during phases associated with high estrogen concentrations whereas the opposite has been reported with visuo-spatial tasks. The biological basis of these reported effects remains poorly understood. However, brain imaging studies into the effects of estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women suggest that estrogen modulates the metabolism and function of brain regions sub-serving memory. Furthermore, we have recently reported that acute suppression of ovarian function in young women (with a Gonadotropin Hormone Releasing Hormone agonist) is associated with decreased activation in left prefrontal cortex, particularly the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG), during successful verbal memory encoding. We therefore investigated whether physiological variation in plasma estradiol concentration is associated with differences in activity of the LIFG during successful verbal encoding. We hypothesised that higher plasma concentrations of estradiol would be associated with increased brain activity at the LIFG and improved recall performance. Although we did not find a significant relationship between plasma estradiol concentration and verbal recall performance, we report a positive correlation between brain function and estradiol concentration at the LIFG.
Hormones and Behavior 05/2008; 53(4):503-8. · 3.74 Impact Factor