Abnormal wiring of the connectome in adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder
Nieminen-von Wendt, Taina
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
, 11 p.
University of Antwerp
Background: Recent brain imaging findings suggest that there are widely distributed abnormalities affecting the brain connectivity in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Using graph theoretical analysis, it is possible to investigate both global and local properties of brain's wiring diagram, i.e., the connectome. Methods: We acquired diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data from 14 adult males with high-functioning ASD and 19 age-, gender-, and IQ-matched controls. As with diffusion tensor imaging-based tractography, it is not possible to detect complex (e.g., crossing) fiber configurations, present in 60-90 % of white matter voxels; we performed constrained spherical deconvolution-based whole brain tractography. Unweighted and weighted structural brain networks were then reconstructed from these tractography data and analyzed with graph theoretical measures. Results: In subjects with ASD, global efficiency was significantly decreased both in the unweighted and the weighted networks, normalized characteristic path length was significantly increased in the unweighted networks, and strength was significantly decreased in the weighted networks. In the local analyses, betweenness centrality of the right caudate was significantly increased in the weighted networks, and the strength of the right superior temporal pole was significantly decreased in the unweighted networks in subjects with ASD. Conclusions: Our findings provide new insights into understanding ASD by showing that the integration of structural brain networks is decreased and that there are abnormalities in the connectivity of the right caudate and right superior temporal pole in subjects with ASD.