Hiromi Watanabe

Showa University, Shinagawa, Tōkyō, Japan

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Publications (9)32.73 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often have sensory processing abnormalities. However, limited measures that assess these problems in adults with ASD have been developed till date, particularly in Japan. Robertson and Simmons (2012) developed a self-rating scale to investigate sensory sensitivity: the Glasgow Sensory Questionnaire (GSQ). In the present study, we developed a Japanese version of GSQ and investigated sensory abnormalities in adults with ASD. We compared results of the Japanese version of GSQ in adults between an ASD group (n = 64) and a control group (n = 70). In addition, we also administered these individuals with the autism spectrum quotient (AQ), which is a questionnaire for assessing autistic traits. The Japanese version of GSQ scores was significantly higher in the ASD group than that in the control group. The total GSQ score and each sensory subscale showed a positive correlation with AQ in the total study sample. These results indicate that individuals with pronounced autistic traits have more frequent and extreme sensory processing problems compared with that in individuals with less pronounced autistic traits. We also assessed validity of the new test. Cronbach's α of the questionnaire was calculated, and its high value indicates that the Japanese version of GSQ has high reliability.
    Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 04/2014; 8(4):347–353. · 2.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have difficulty with verbal communication, which might be due to a lack of spontaneous orientation toward social auditory stimuli. Previous studies have shown that a single dose of oxytocin improves speech comprehension in autism. The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether the orientation behaviors toward human sounds are different for neurotypical (NT) adults and adults with ASD and whether oxytocin has an effect on their orientation behaviors toward human sounds. This was a randomized, placebo-controlled, within-subject, crossover design study of intranasal oxytocin versus placebo in 13 NT adults and 16 adults with ASD. Subjects were randomized to 24 IU intranasal oxytocin or placebo on different days, and they were blind to the treatment. The participants then listened passively to human and non-human affective sounds while their skin conductance responses (SCRs) and the changes in peripheral blood vessel constriction were monitored as an indicator of spontaneous orientation. The monitored data were analyzed by a mixed-design ANOVA. Oxytocin enhanced the difference between the SCRs to human and non-human sounds in both the NT and ASD groups (F(1,56) = 6.046, p = 0.017). Further correlation coefficient analysis showed significant correlations between this SCR difference and the scores in the autism spectrum quotient 'attention to detail' and 'social skill' subscales and interpersonal reactivity index and social functioning scale in the ASD group. Oxytocin was well tolerated, and no serious adverse effects were reported. The difference in SCRs implies that oxytocin nasal spray may enhance orientation behaviors toward human sounds in the presence of other environmental sounds in both ASD and NT adults.Trial registration: UMIN-CTR Clinical Trial, Unique trial number: UMIN000005809.
    Molecular Autism 02/2014; 5(1):20. · 5.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies on autism spectrum condition (ASC) have identified dysfunctions in specific brain networks involved in social and non-social cognition that persist into adulthood. Although increasing numbers of fMRI studies have revealed atypical functional connectivity in the adult ASC brain, such functional alterations at the network level have not yet been fully characterized within the recently developed graph-theoretical framework. Here, we applied a graph-theoretical analysis to resting-state fMRI data acquired from 46 adults with ASC and 46 age- and gender-matched controls, to investigate the topological properties and organization of autistic brain network. Analyses of global metrics revealed that, relative to the controls, participants with ASC exhibited significant decreases in clustering coefficient and characteristic path length, indicating a shift towards randomized organization. Furthermore, analyses of local metrics revealed a significantly altered organization of the hub nodes in ASC, as shown by analyses of hub disruption indices using multiple local metrics and by a loss of "hubness" in several nodes (e.g., the bilateral superior temporal sulcus, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and precuneus) that are critical for social and non-social cognitive functions. In particular, local metrics of the anterior cingulate cortex consistently showed significant negative correlations with the Autism-Spectrum Quotient score. Our results demonstrate altered patterns of global and local topological properties that may underlie impaired social and non-social cognition in ASC.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(4):e94115. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Functions of the orbitofrontal cortex include diverse social, cognitive, and affective processes, many of which are abnormal in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Recently, altered orbitofrontal sulcogyral patterns have been revealed in several psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, indicating a possibility that altered orbitofrontal sulcogyral morphology reflects abnormal neurodevelopment. However, the presence of sulcal alterations in ASD remains unexplored. Using structural MRI, subtypes of the "H-shaped" sulcus (Type I, II, and III, in order of frequency), posterior orbital sulcus (POS), and intermediate orbital sulcus were identified in each hemisphere of adult males with ASD (n=51) and matched normal controls (n=55) based on Chiavaras and Petrides (2000). ASD showed a significantly altered distribution of H-shaped sulcal subtypes in both hemispheres, with a significant increase of Type III. A significant alteration in the distribution of sulcal subtypes was also identified in the right hemisphere POS of ASD. Categorical regression analysis revealed that Type I and II expressions predicted a reduced total Autism-Spectrum Quotient score. Furthermore, Type I expression was associated with a reduced "attention to detail" subscale score. The results demonstrate that altered sulcogyral morphology can be a marker for abnormal neurodevelopment leading to the increased risk of developing autism.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 02/2013; · 5.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies on selective attention have demonstrated that the perceptual load of a task determines the processing stage at which irrelevant sensory stimuli are filtered out. Although individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have been repeatedly reported to display several kinds of abnormal behavior related to attention deficits, the neural mechanisms underlying these deficits have not been well investigated within the framework of the load dependency of selective attention. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain responses of adults with high-functioning ASC to irrelevant visual distractors while performing a visual target detection task under high or low perceptual load. We observed that the increased perceptual load activated regions of the fronto-parietal attention network of controls and ASC comparably. On the other hand, the visual cortex activity evoked by visual distractors was less modulated by the increased perceptual load in ASC than in controls. Simple regression analyses showed that the degree of the modulation was significantly correlated with the severity of the autistic symptoms. We also observed reduced load-dependent modulation of the functional connectivity between the intraparietal and visual regions in the ASC group. These results revealed neural correlates for abnormal perceptual load-dependent engagement of visual attention in ASC, which may underlie aspects of cognitive and behavioral characteristics of these disorders.
    NeuroImage 03/2012; 61(4):1176-87. · 6.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the cognitive profiles of high-functioning Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) in adults based on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale III (WAIS-III). We examined cognitive profiles of adults with no intellectual disability (IQ > 70), and in adults with Asperger's disorder (AS; n = 47), high-functioning autism (HFA; n = 24), and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS; n = 51) using the WAIS-III. Verbal Intelligence (VIQ)–Performance Intelligence (PIQ) differences were detected between the three groups. Full Intelligence (FIQ) and VIQ scores were significantly higher in AS than in HFA and PDDNOS. Vocabulary, Information, and Comprehension subtest scores in the Verbal Comprehension index were significantly higher in AS than in the other subgroups, while Digit-Symbol Coding and Symbol Search subtest scores in the Processing Speed index were significantly lower in HFA. The findings demonstrated cognitive profiles characteristic of adults with high-functioning PDD.
    Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 01/2012; 6(1):58–64. · 2.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: People with Asperger's syndrome (AS) experience mental comorbidities, and behavioral symptoms that can deepen social isolation and handicaps. We compared the frequency of mental and behavioral symptoms, motor abnormality, and life history between adults with AS and those with no mental disorders but with disturbance of social functions and communication skills (ND) from our outpatient clinic. Participants with AS (n = 99) as compared with ND subjects (n = 63) showed significant higher rate of depressive mood, anxiety, unstable emotion, mood swings, oversensitivity to normal situation obsessive compulsive symptoms, persecutory idea, loss of energy, insomnia carelessness, restlessness, confusion in new environments, episodic agitation, inflexible adherence, egocentric behavior, self harm, circumscribed interest, poor lifestyle habits, non-athleticism, clumsiness, bulling at school, school non-attendance, social withdrawal, and lack of friendships. In AS, emotional instability and confusion in new environments might lead to social isolation. The findings demonstrated that individuals with AS experience greater social isolation and distress, as well as a wider range of mental and behavioral symptoms and disturbances of motor skills as compared to healthy subjects with disturbances of social functions and communication skills. These factors are interrelated and may be used as supplementary methods for differential diagnosis of AS from other conditions.
    Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 01/2012; 6(2):907–912. · 2.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with autism spectrum condition (ASC) are known to excel in some perceptual cognitive tasks, but such developed functions have been often regarded as "islets of abilities" that do not significantly contribute to broader intellectual capacities. However, recent behavioral studies have reported that individuals with ASC have advantages for performing Raven's (Standard) Progressive Matrices (RPM/RSPM), a standard neuropsychological test for general fluid intelligence, raising the possibility that ASC's cognitive strength can be utilized for more general purposes like novel problem solving. Here, the brain activity of 25 adults with high-functioning ASC and 26 matched normal controls (NC) was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine neural substrates of geometric reasoning during the engagement of a modified version of the RSPM test. Among the frontal and parietal brain regions involved in fluid intelligence, ASC showed larger activation in the left lateral occipitotemporal cortex (LOTC) during an analytic condition with moderate difficulty than NC. Activation in the left LOTC and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) increased with task difficulty in NC, whereas such modulation of activity was absent in ASC. Furthermore, functional connectivity analysis revealed a significant reduction of activation coupling between the left inferior parietal cortex and the right anterior prefrontal cortex during both figural and analytic conditions in ASC. These results indicate altered pattern of functional specialization and integration in the neural system for geometric reasoning in ASC, which may explain its atypical cognitive pattern, including performance on the Raven's Matrices test.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e43220. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex has been previously reported in individuals with Asperger's disorder. In the present study, we used multi-channel near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to detect changes in the oxygenated hemoglobin concentration ([oxy-Hb]) during two verbal fluency tasks. The subjects were 20 individuals with Asperger's disorder and 18 age- and IQ-matched healthy controls. The relative [oxy-Hb] in the prefrontal cortex was measured during the category and letter fluency tasks. The mean total [oxy-Hb] during the category fluency task did not differ significantly between the groups; however, during the letter fluency task, the mean [oxy-Hb] in persons with Asperger's disorder was significantly lower than that in controls. These results suggested task-relevant or task-specific prefrontal dysfunction in persons with Asperger's disorder.
    Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders - RES AUTISM SPECTR DISORD. 01/2011; 5(3):1187-1193.