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.