MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jace B. King, PhD
Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences
Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience
University of Utah, Salt Lake City
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Aberrant brain connectivity is believed to be a robust neurobiological underpinning in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. To date, the majority of functional connectivity fMRI studies have focused on the strength of the relationship between coactivating regions of the brain during a resting state. An often-replicated finding suggests individuals with autism demonstrate increased short-range functional connectivity and decreased long-range functional connectivity.
Our study focuses on the temporal domain of functional connectivity fMRI data acquired using long duration multiband, multiecho acquisitions. We used two different measurements of the temporal synchrony between brain regions to establish that, on average, individuals with autism exhibit prolonged functional connectivity in multiple regions associated with a diagnosis of the disorder. A number of these findings were then replicated in a large multisite dataset (Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange).
Additionally, we found a strong positive relationship between the duration of functional connectivity in multiple brain regions and symptoms relating to social dysfunction in individuals with autism suggesting that they may need to hang on to neural connections just a bit longer in order to process social queues and quickly changing novel sensory information.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Prolonged synchrony of brain regions in individuals with autism provides new insight into the pathophysiology of the disorder. We may be able to learn more about the neural correlates of autism spectrum disorder by studying the temporal domain of brain activity. Autism may be related more to the duration of brain function rather than the strength of coactivating brain regions.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Future resting-state fMRI research into the psychophysiology of autism spectrum disorder should incorporate long duration scans in order to provide the best possible data for analysis. We have much more to glean from probing the temporal domain of resting-state fMRI in individuals with autism.
King JB, Prigge MBD, King CK, et al. Evaluation of Differences in Temporal Synchrony Between Brain Regions in Individuals With Autism and Typical Development. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e184777. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4777
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