Motomi Toichi

Kyoto University, Kioto, Kyōto, Japan

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Publications (85)242.71 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Obsessions and compulsions (OCs) are frequent in healthy subjects; however neural backgrounds of the subclinical OCs were largely unknown. Results from recent studies suggested involvement of the putamen in the OC traits. To investigate this issue, 49 healthy subjects were assessed using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the Maudsley Obsessive Compulsive Inventory (MOCI). Anatomical delineation on MRI yielded the global volume and local shape of the putamen. Other striatal structures (the caudate nucleus and globus pallidus) were also examined for exploratory purpose. The relationship between volume/shape of each structures and MOCI measure was analyzed, with sex, age, state anxiety, trait anxiety, and full-scale Intelligence Quotient regressed out. The volume analysis revealed a positive relationship between the MOCI total score and the bilateral putamen volumes. The shape analysis demonstrated associations between the higher MOCI total score and hypertrophy of the anterior putamen in both hemispheres. The present study firstly revealed that the volume changes of the putamen correlated with the manifestation of subclinical OC traits. The dysfunctional cortico-anterior striatum networks seemed to be one of the neuronal subsystems underlying the subclinical OC traits.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
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    Shuo Zhao · Shota Uono · Sayaka Yoshimura · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Joint attention skills are impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Recently, varying degrees of autistic social attention deficit have been detected in the general population. We investigated gaze-triggered attention in individuals with high and low levels of autistic traits under visual–auditory cross-modal conditions, which are more sensitive to social attention deficits than unimodal paradigms. Sixty-six typically developing adults were divided into low- and high-autistic-trait groups according to scores on the autism-spectrum quotient (AQ) questionnaire. We examined gaze-triggered attention under visual–auditory cross-modal conditions. Two sounds (a social voice and a non-social tone) were manipulated as targets to infer the relationship between the cue and the target. Two types of stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) conditions (a shorter 200-ms SOA and a longer 800-ms SOA) were used to directly test the effect of gaze cues on the detection of a sound target across different temporal intervals. Individuals with high autistic traits (high-AQ group) did not differ from those with low autistic traits (low-AQ group) with respect to gaze-triggered attention when voices or tones were used as targets under the shorter SOA condition. In contrast, under the longer SOA condition, gaze-triggered attention was not observed in response to tonal targets among individuals in the high-AQ group, whereas it was observed among individuals in the low-AQ group. The results demonstrated that cross-modal gaze-triggered attention is short-lived in individuals with high autistic traits. This finding provides insight into the cross-modal joint attention function among individuals along the autism spectrum from low autistic traits to ASD and may further our understanding of social behaviours among individuals at different places along the autistic trait continuum.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Molecular Autism
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    ABSTRACT: Happiness is a subjective experience that is an ultimate goal for humans. Psychological studies have shown that subjective happiness can be measured reliably and consists of emotional and cognitive components. However, the neural substrates of subjective happiness remain unclear. To investigate this issue, we used structural magnetic resonance imaging and questionnaires that assessed subjective happiness, the intensity of positive and negative emotional experiences, and purpose in life. We found a positive relationship between the subjective happiness score and gray matter volume in the right precuneus. Moreover, the same region showed an association with the combined positive and negative emotional intensity and purpose in life scores. Our findings suggest that the precuneus mediates subjective happiness by integrating the emotional and cognitive components of happiness.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Scientific Reports
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    Shuo Zhao · Shota Uono · Sayaka Yoshimura · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: For humans, both eye gaze and arrows serve as powerful signals for orienting attention. Recent studies have shown important differences between gaze and arrows in attention orienting; however, the mechanisms underlying these differences are not known. One such mechanism may be self-referential processing. To investigate this possibility, we trained participants to associate two cues (a red and green arrow in Experiment 1A and two different faces in Experiment 1B) with distinct words (“self” and “other”). Then, we manipulated two types of sound (voice and tone) as targets to investigate whether the cueing effect to self- and other-referential cues differs in a manner similar to that reported for gaze and arrows. We found that self-, but not other-, referential cues induced an enhanced cueing effect to the voice target relative to the tone target regardless of the cue characteristic (i.e., biological or non-biological). Our results suggest that the difference between gaze and arrows in orienting attention can be explained, at least in part, by the self-referentiality of gaze. Furthermore, in Experiment 2, we found a reverse cueing pattern between gaze and arrow cues by manipulating subjects’ experiences, suggesting that differences in the self-referentiality of gaze and arrow cues are not inherent.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Scientific Reports
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    Wataru Sato · Takanori Kochiyama · Shota Uono · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Behavioral studies have shown that eye gaze triggers attentional shifts both with and without conscious awareness. However, the neural substrates of conscious and unconscious attentional shifts triggered by eye gaze remain unclear. To investigate this issue, we measured brain activity using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging while participants observed averted or straight eye-gaze cues presented supraliminally or subliminally in the central visual field and then localized a subsequent target in the peripheral visual field. Reaction times for localizing the targets were shorter under both supraliminal and subliminal conditions when eye-gaze cues were directionally congruent with the target locations than when they were directionally neutral. Conjunction analyses revealed that a bilateral cortical network, including the middle temporal gyri, inferior parietal lobules, anterior cingulate cortices, and superior and middle frontal gyri, was activated more in response to averted eyes than to straight eyes under both supraliminal and subliminal conditions. Interaction analyses revealed that the right inferior parietal lobule was specifically active when participants viewed averted eyes relative to straight eyes under the supraliminal condition; the bilateral subcortical regions, including the superior colliculus and amygdala, and the middle temporal and inferior frontal gyri in the right hemisphere were activated in response to averted versus straight eyes under the subliminal condition. These results suggest commonalities and differences in the neural mechanisms underlying conscious and unconscious attentional shifts triggered by eye gaze.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · NeuroImage
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    Shota Uono · Wataru Sato · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Emotional facial expressions are indispensable communicative tools, and social interactions involving facial expressions are impaired in some psychiatric disorders. Recent studies revealed that the perception of dynamic facial expressions was exaggerated in normal participants, and this exaggerated perception is weakened in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Based on the notion that ASD and schizophrenia spectrum disorder are at two extremes of the continuum with respect to social impairment, we hypothesized that schizophrenic characteristics would strengthen the exaggerated perception of dynamic facial expressions. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the relationship between the perception of facial expressions and schizotypal traits in a normal population. We presented dynamic and static facial expressions, and asked participants to change an emotional face display to match the perceived final image. The presence of schizotypal traits was positively correlated with the degree of exaggeration for dynamic, as well as static, facial expressions. Among its subscales, the paranoia trait was positively correlated with the exaggerated perception of facial expressions. These results suggest that schizotypal traits, specifically the tendency to over-attribute mental states to others, exaggerate the perception of emotional facial expressions.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Scientific Reports
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    ABSTRACT: Basal ganglia (BG) abnormalities are implicated in the pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, studies measuring the volume of the entire BG in individuals with ASD have reported discrepant findings, and no study conducted volume measurement of the entire substructures of the BG (the caudate, putamen, nucleus accumbens, and globus pallidus) in individuals with ASD. We delineated the BG substructures and measured their volumes in 29 adults with ASD without intellectual disabilities and 29 age- and gender-matched typically developed adult controls. We acquired T1-weighted anatomical images and performed semiautomated delineation and volume measurements of the above-mentioned subregions. Total cerebral volumes, sex, and ages were partialed out. Compared with controls, the putamen was significantly larger in the ASD group. The increased volume of the putamen found in high-functioning adults with ASD suggests that structural or histological abnormalities of the putamen may underlie the pathologies of ASD, such as repetitive and stereotyped behaviors and impaired social interactions.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
  • Sayaka Yoshimura · Wataru Sato · Shota Uono · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Previous electromyographic studies have reported that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibited atypical patterns of facial muscle activity in response to facial expression stimuli. However, whether such activity is expressed in visible facial mimicry remains unknown. To investigate this issue, we videotaped facial responses in high-functioning individuals with ASD and controls to dynamic and static facial expressions of anger and happiness. Visual coding of facial muscle activity and the subjective impression ratings showed reduced congruent responses to dynamic expressions in the ASD group. Additionally, this decline was related to social dysfunction. These results suggest that impairment in overt facial mimicry in response to others' dynamic facial expressions may underlie difficulties in reciprocal social interaction among individuals with ASD.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: Neuroimaging studies have found greater activation in the inferior occipital gyrus (IOG), or occipital face area, in response to faces relative to non-facial stimuli. However, the temporal, frequency, and functional profiles of IOG activity during face processing remain unclear. Here, this issue was investigated by recording intracranial field potentials in the IOG during the presentation of faces, mosaics, and houses in upright and inverted orientations. Time–frequency statistical parametric mapping analyses revealed greater gamma-band activation in the IOG beginning at 110 ms and covering 40–300 Hz in response to upright faces relative to upright houses and mosaics. Phase–amplitude cross-frequency coupling analyses revealed more evident theta–gamma couplings at 115–256 ms during the processing of upright faces as compared with that of upright houses and mosaics. Comparable gamma-band activity was observed during the processing of inverted and upright faces at about 100–200 ms, but weaker activity and different coupling with theta-band activity after 200 ms. These patterns of activity were more evident in the right than in the left IOG. These results, together with other evidence on neural communication, suggest that broadband gamma oscillations in the right IOG conduct rapid and multistage (i.e., both featural and configural) face processing in collaboration with theta oscillations transmitted from other brain regions.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Cortex
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    Wataru Sato · Yasutaka Kubota · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Emotional processing without conscious awareness plays an important role in human social interaction. Several behavioral studies reported that subliminal presentation of photographs of emotional facial expressions induces unconscious emotional processing. However, it was difficult to elicit strong and robust effects using this method. We hypothesized that dynamic presentations of facial expressions would enhance subliminal emotional effects and tested this hypothesis with two experiments. Fearful or happy facial expressions were presented dynamically or statically in either the left or the right visual field for 20 (Experiment 1) and 30 (Experiment 2) ms. Nonsense target ideographs were then presented, and participants reported their preference for them. The results consistently showed that dynamic presentations of emotional facial expressions induced more evident emotional biases toward subsequent targets than did static ones. These results indicate that dynamic presentations of emotional facial expressions induce more evident unconscious emotional processing.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    Shota Uono · Wataru Sato · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: The cognitive mechanisms underlying social communication via emotional facial expressions are crucial for understanding the social impairments experienced by people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A recent study (Yoshikawa & Sato, 2008) found that typically developing individuals perceived the last image from a dynamic facial expression to be more emotionally exaggerated than a static facial expression; this perceptual difference is termed representational momentum (RM) for dynamic facial expressions. RM for dynamic facial expressions might be useful for detecting emotion in another's face and for predicting behavior changes. We examined RM for dynamic facial expressions using facial expression stimuli at three levels of emotional intensity (subtle, medium, and extreme) in people with ASD. We predicted that individuals with ASD would show reduced RM for dynamic facial expressions. Eleven individuals with ASD (three with Asperger's disorder and eight with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) and 11 IQ-, age- and gender-matched typically developing controls participated in this study. Participants were asked to select an image that matched the final image from dynamic and static facial expressions. Our results revealed that subjectively perceived images were more exaggerated for the dynamic than for the static presentation under all levels of intensity and in both groups. The ASD group, however, perceived a reduced degree of exaggeration for dynamic facial expressions under the subtle intensity condition. As facial expressions are often displayed subtly in daily communications, reduced RM for subtle dynamic facial expressions may prevent individuals with ASD from appropriately interacting with other people as a consequence of their difficulty detecting others’ emotions.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Zhao Shuo · Shota Uono · Sayaka Yoshimura · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to evaluate the difference in non-predictive cues between gaze and arrows in attention orienting. Attention orienting was investigated with gaze or arrows as separate cues in a simple condition (i.e., block design) in Experiment 1 and in an unpredictable condition (i.e., randomized design) in Experiment 2. Two kinds of sound (voice and tone) stimuli were used as targets. Results showed that gaze and arrow cues induced enhanced attention orienting to a voice versus tone target in the block condition. However, in the randomized condition, enhanced attention orienting to a voice versus tone target was found in gaze but not arrow cues. The congruency of the meaning between a social cue (i.e., gaze) and a social target (i.e., voice) was clear in the randomized but not blocked design, because social gaze and non-social arrow cues were implemented in the same block. Thus, attention orienting might be mediated by the associated relationship of cue-target in a randomized condition, as an enhanced orienting effect was found when the associated relationship of cue-target was strong (i.e., social cue and target). The present study suggests that the difference in attention orienting between gaze and arrows is apparent in a randomized design (the unpredictable condition), and people employ a flexibly strategy of orienting to better respond to environmental changes.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Acta Psychologica
  • Shuo Zhao · Shota Uono · Sayaka Yoshimura · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to evaluate the difference in non-predictive cues between gaze and arrows in attention orienting. Attention orienting was investigated with gaze or arrows as separate cues in a simple condition (i.e., block design) in Experiment 1 and in an unpredictable condition (i.e., randomized design) in Experiment 2. Two kinds of sound (voice and tone) stimuli were used as targets. Results showed that gaze and arrow cues induced enhanced attention orienting to a voice versus tone target in the block condition. However, in the randomized condition, enhanced attention orienting to a voice versus tone target was found in gaze but not arrow cues. The congruency of the meaning between a social cue (i.e., gaze) and a social target (i.e., voice) was clear in the randomized but not blocked design, because social gaze and non-social arrow cues were implemented in the same block. Thus, attention orienting might be mediated by the associated relationship of cue-target in a randomized condition, as an enhanced orienting effect was found when the associated relationship of cue-target was strong (i.e., social cue and target). The present study suggests that the difference in attention orienting between gaze and arrows is apparent in a randomized design (the unpredictable condition), and people employ a flexibly strategy of orienting to better respond to environmental changes.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Acta Psychologica
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have shown that females and males differ in the processing of emotional facial expressions including the recognition of emotion, and that emotional facial expressions are detected more rapidly than are neutral expressions. However, whether the sexes differ in the rapid detection of emotional facial expressions remains unclear. We measured reaction times (RTs) during a visual search task in which 44 females and 46 males detected normal facial expressions of anger and happiness or their anti-expressions within crowds of neutral expressions. Anti-expressions expressed neutral emotions with visual changes quantitatively comparable to normal expressions. We also obtained subjective emotional ratings in response to the facial expression stimuli. RT results showed that both females and males detected normal expressions more rapidly than anti-expressions and normal-angry expressions more rapidly than normal-happy expressions. However, females and males showed different patterns in their subjective ratings in response to the facial expressions. Furthermore, sex differences were found in the relationships between subjective ratings and RTs. High arousal was more strongly associated with rapid detection of facial expressions in females, whereas negatively valenced feelings were more clearly associated with the rapid detection of facial expressions in males. Our data suggest that females and males differ in their subjective emotional reactions to facial expressions and in the emotional processes that modulate the detection of facial expressions.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Behavioral studies have shown that emotional facial expressions are detected more rapidly and accurately than are neutral expressions. However, the neural mechanism underlying this efficient detection has remained unclear. To investigate this mechanism, we measured event-related potentials (ERPs) during a visual search task in which participants detected the normal emotional facial expressions of anger and happiness or their control stimuli, termed “anti-expressions,” within crowds of neutral expressions. The anti-expressions, which were created using a morphing technique that produced changes equivalent to those in the normal emotional facial expressions compared with the neutral facial expressions, were most frequently recognized as emotionally neutral. Behaviorally, normal expressions were detected faster and more accurately and were rated as more emotionally arousing than were the anti-expressions. Regarding ERPs, the normal expressions elicited larger early posterior negativity (EPN) at 200–400 ms compared with anti-expressions. Furthermore, larger EPN was related to faster and more accurate detection and higher emotional arousal. These data suggest that the efficient detection of emotional facial expressions is implemented via enhanced activation of the posterior visual cortices at 200–400 ms based on their emotional significance.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Brain research
  • Sayaka Yoshimura · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Self-consciousness plays an important role in a person's social life. Assuming that self-consciousness is a key to understanding social impairments in high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we examined self-consciousness in individuals with Asperger's disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS) and their controls using an episodic memory task. The PDDNOS group consisted of individuals in a milder subgroup of PDDNOS, with less autistic features than Asperger's disorder. In the learning phase, one of three types of questions (phonological, semantic, self-referential) was asked about each following target word. The target words were all personality trait adjectives. Next, a recognition test was conducted. The PDDNOS group, like the control, showed the most superior performance in self-referential processing (i.e. the self-reference effect) while the Asperger's group did not; however, both the ASD groups revealed an atypical pattern of relationship between memory performance and IQ. Individuals with PDDNOS, unlike those with Asperger's disorder, may be self-conscious to the same degree as typically developing individuals, but the cognitive process leading them to self-consciousness seems atypical, causing social impairments similar to those seen in individuals with Asperger's disorder who lack self-consciousness.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, including joint attention, but psychological studies generally have reported intact gaze-triggered joint attention in ASD. These studies used a uni-modal paradigm (i.e. visual cue-target pairs) with eyes or faces as cues and letters or dots as targets. However, it has not been determined whether joint attention is impaired under cross-modal conditions in ASD, although cross-modal impairment has been reported. This study investigated joint attention in ASD under cross-modal conditions with gaze stimuli as visual cues and two kinds of sound (social voice or non-social tone) stimuli as targets. The task for the subject was to locate the target sound and click as soon and as accurately as possible. The ASD group was impaired in joint attention when a tone was used as the target, while both groups showed joint attention to a voice. The results suggest that cross-modal joint attention is impaired in the ASD group when the cue-target relationship is weak (i.e. social cue and non-social target) while it is unimpaired when there is a strong cue-target relationship (i.e. social cue and social target).
    No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: Human faces transmit multiple valuable signals, and neuroimaging studies have shown that the amygdala is active in response to facial stimuli. However, little has been known about the temporal profile of amygdala activation during facial signal processing until recently. Here we review three recent studies conducted by our group in which we recorded amygdala intracranial electroencephalography in humans. The subjects were engaged in tasks that required automatic processing of faces, eye gazes and emotional expressions. Time-frequency statistical parametric mapping analyses revealed that the amygdala showed gamma-band activation in response to emotional expressions, gazes and faces, with peak latencies at about 100 ms, 200 ms and 250 ms, respectively. These results suggest that: (1) the amygdala performs multiple-stage processing in response to these facial signals using different visual input routes, and (2) amygdala activation for processing all of these facial signals is rapid, which could be prior to or simultaneous with conscious awareness of faces.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Communicative & integrative biology
  • Wataru Sato · Shota Uono · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have suggested that the processing of dynamic facial expressions is impaired in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, the specific component that is impaired in the processing of dynamic facial expressions has not been identified. We investigated the recognition of dynamic changes in facial expressions among individuals with ASD and age- and sex-matched typically developing controls. Morphing animations of facial expressions of six emotions were presented at four different changing speeds, and participants rated the naturalness of the expression changes. The correspondence between reduced speeds and decreased naturalness ratings was weaker in the ASD than in the control group. These results suggest that the atypical visual analysis of dynamic changes in facial expressions underlies the impairment in real-life social interaction among individuals with ASD.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
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    Shota Uono · Wataru Sato · Motomi Toichi
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    ABSTRACT: This study was designed to identify specific difficulties and associated features related to the problems with social interaction experienced by individuals with pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) using an emotion-recognition task. We compared individuals with PDD-NOS or Asperger's disorder (ASP) and typically developing individuals in terms of their ability to recognize facial expressions conveying the six basic emotions. Individuals with PDD-NOS and ASP were worse at recognizing fearful faces than were controls. Individuals with PDD-NOS were less accurate in recognizing disgusted faces than were those with ASP. The results suggest that PDD subtypes are characterized by shared and unique impairments in the ability to recognize facial expressions. Furthermore, the ability to recognize fearful but not disgusted expressions was negatively correlated with the severity of social dysfunction in PDD-NOS and ASP. The results suggest that impaired recognition of fearful and disgusted faces may reflect the severity of social dysfunction across PDD subtypes and the specific problems associated with PDD-NOS, respectively. Characteristics associated with different levels of symptom severity in PDD-NOS are discussed in terms of similarities with brain damage and other psychiatric disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Publication Stats

1k Citations
242.71 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1996-2015
    • Kyoto University
      • • Department of Human Health Sciences
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      Kioto, Kyōto, Japan
  • 2001-2011
    • Case Western Reserve University
      • Department of Psychiatry (University Hospitals Case Medical Center)
      Cleveland, Ohio, United States
  • 2007
    • Kobe University
      • Graduate School of Medicine
      Kōbe, Hyōgo, Japan
  • 2000-2006
    • Shiga University
      Japan
  • 2001-2005
    • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Cleveland, Ohio, United States
  • 2003
    • University Hospitals
      Cleveland, Ohio, United States