Impaired functional connectivity in networks underlying balance in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
++C.07.c. Autism: Physiology and systems
, C. L. KEOWN
, A. NAIR
, G. KOOR
, S. KIRTLAND
, D. GOBLE
, R.-A. MÜLLER
San Diego State Univ., San Diego, CA;
Brain Develop. Imaging Lab., San Diego, CA;
UCSD, La Jolla, CA;
Biomechanics Lab., San Diego, CA
Motor impairments are a frequent finding in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and are among the earliest occurring signs in infants with ASD. The literature has mostly focused on fine motor skills, gross motor skills and imitation, whereas less is known about balance. Early motor deficits may contribute to social impairments in ASD (e.g. Bhat et al., 2011). A comprehensive understanding of the motor system in ASD is therefore crucial. The objective of the current study was to examine functional connectivity of regions implicated in balance in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) peers.
We included 24 ASD and 23 motion, age-, gender-, handedness-, and non-verbal IQ- matched TD participants. FcMRI data were slice-time and motion corrected, aligned to high-resolution anatomical data and standardized to the MNI152 template. Output images were then blurred to a 6mm global FWHM and bandpass filtered (.008<
<.08). Nuisance variables included six rigid-body motion parameters, average time series from white matter and ventricles, and their derivatives. The SPM WFU PickAtlas was used to define masks for the regions of interests (ROIs) in left and right globus pallidus and left and right putamen, regions previously implicated in somatosensory aspects of balance. Average time series were extracted from these seeds for whole brain correlation.
We found significant overconnectivity (
<.05, corr.) for globus pallidus and putamen with left temporal lobe and motor cortex bilaterally in the ASD group. A reverse fcMRI analysis conducted between these cortical regions and the left and right globus pallidus and putamen showed relatively equal contributions of the ROIs to overconnectivity. Preliminary analyses conducted on 9 ASD and 12 TD participants showed marginally significant correlations between connectivity in the above clusters of group difference and impaired balance performance during eyes open (
=.11) and eyes closed (
=.08) conditions. Additionally, balance impairment correlated with ADOS Repetitive Behavior subdomain scores (
=.04), SRS Autistic Mannerism subscale scores (
=.005), and RBS-R total scores (
Impaired balance in ASD was found to be correlated with symptom severity, especially for repetitive behaviors and autistic mannerisms. Imaging findings further suggest that impaired balance may be associated with functional overconnectivity between basal ganglia and temporal regions (possibly related to the vestibular system) and motor cortex. Our findings add to the growing evidence of links between sensorimotor impairments and symptomatology in ASD.
NIH Grant R01-MH081023
Autism Speaks Dennis Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship #7850
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