[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been postulated that autism spectrum disorder is underpinned by an ‘atypical connectivity’ involving higher-order association brain regions. To test this hypothesis in a large cohort of adults with autism spectrum disorder we compared the white matter networks of 61 adult males with autism spectrum disorder and 61 neurotypical controls, using two complementary approaches to diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. First, we applied tract-based spatial statistics, a ‘whole brain’ non-hypothesis driven method, to identify differences in white matter networks in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Following this we used a tract-specific analysis, based on tractography, to carry out a more detailed analysis of individual tracts identified by tract-based spatial statistics. Finally, within the autism spectrum disorder group, we studied the relationship between diffusion measures and autistic symptom severity. Tract-based spatial statistics revealed that autism spectrum disorder was associated with significantly reduced fractional anisotropy in regions that included frontal lobe pathways. Tractography analysis of these specific pathways showed increased mean and perpendicular diffusivity, and reduced number of streamlines in the anterior and long segments of the arcuate fasciculus, cingulum and uncinate—predominantly in the left hemisphere. Abnormalities were also evident in the anterior portions of the corpus callosum connecting left and right frontal lobes. The degree of microstructural alteration of the arcuate and uncinate fasciculi was associated with severity of symptoms in language and social reciprocity in childhood. Our results indicated that autism spectrum disorder is a developmental condition associated with abnormal connectivity of the frontal lobes. Furthermore our findings showed that male adults with autism spectrum disorder have regional differences in brain anatomy, which correlate with specific aspects of autistic symptoms. Overall these results suggest that autism spectrum disorder is a condition linked to aberrant developmental trajectories of the frontal networks that persist in adult life.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The second half of pregnancy is a crucial period for the development of structural brain connectivity, and an abrupt interruption of the typical processes of development during this phase caused by the very preterm birth (<33 weeks of gestation) is likely to result in long-lasting consequences. We used structural and diffusion imaging data to reconstruct the brain structural connectome in very preterm-born adults. We assessed its rich-club organization and modularity as 2 characteristics reflecting the capacity to support global and local information exchange, respectively. Our results suggest that the establishment of global connectivity patterns is prioritized over peripheral connectivity following early neurodevelopmental disruption. The very preterm brain exhibited a stronger rich-club architecture than the control brain, despite possessing a relative paucity of white matter resources. Using a simulated lesion approach, we also investigated whether putative structural reorganization takes place in the very preterm brain in order to compensate for its anatomical constraints. We found that connections between the basal ganglia and (pre-) motor regions, as well as connections between subcortical regions, assumed an altered role in the structural connectivity of the very preterm brain, and that such alterations had functional implications for information flow, rule learning, and verbal IQ.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here we used the example of perinatal brain injury (PBI) associated with very preterm birth to study the brain’s ability to adapt to injury sustained early in life. In adulthood, individuals with PBI did not show significant deficits in working memory, but exhibited less activation in typical frontoparietal working memory areas. They also showed a relative overactivation of nontask-specific brain areas (perisylvian cortex) compared with controls, and such activation was negatively correlated with the size of white matter pathways involved in working memory (dorsal cingulum). Furthermore, this “extra” activation was associated with better working memory performance and could represent a novel compensatory mechanism following PBI. Such information could inform the development of neuroscience-based cognitive interventions following PBI.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the case of a chronic stroke patient (62 months after injury) showing total absence of motor activity evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of spared regions of the left motor cortex, but near-to-complete recovery of motor abilities in the affected hand.
Multimodal investigations included detailed TMS based motor mapping, motor evoked potentials (MEP), and Cortical Silent period (CSP) as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of motor activity, MRI based lesion analysis and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) Tractography of corticospinal tract (CST). Anatomical analysis revealed a left hemisphere subinsular lesion interrupting the descending left CST at the level of the internal capsule. The absence of MEPs after intense TMS pulses to the ipsilesional M1, and the reversible suppression of ongoing electromyographic (EMG) activity (indexed by CSP) demonstrate a weak modulation of subcortical systems by the ipsilesional left frontal cortex, but an inability to induce efficient descending volleys from those cortical locations to right hand and forearm muscles. Functional MRI recordings under grasping and finger tapping patterns involving the affected hand showed slight signs of subcortical recruitment, as compared to the unaffected hand and hemisphere, as well as the expected cortical activations.
The potential sources of motor voluntary activity for the affected hand in absence of MEPs are discussed. We conclude that multimodal analysis may contribute to a more accurate prognosis of stroke patients.