Resting-state functional connectivity changes between dentate nucleus and cortical social brain regions in autism spectrum disorders

Olivito, Giusy, Clausi, Silvia, Laghi, Fiorenzo, Tedesco, Anna Maria, Baiocco, Roberto, Mastropasqua, Chiara, Molinari, Marco, Cercignani, Mara, Bozzali, Marco and Leggio, Maria (2017) Resting-state functional connectivity changes between dentate nucleus and cortical social brain regions in autism spectrum disorders. Cerebellum, 16 (2). pp. 283-292. ISSN 1473-4222

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Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are known to be characterized by restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests and by impairments in social communication and interactions mainly including "theory of mind" (ToM) processes. The cerebellum has emerged as one of the brain regions affected by ASDs. As the cerebellum is known to influence cerebral cortex activity via cerebello-thalamo-cortical (CTC) circuits, it has been proposed that cerebello-cortical "disconnection" could in part underlie autistic symptoms. We used resting-state (RS) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the potential RS connectivity changes between the cerebellar dentate nucleus (DN) and the CTC circuit targets, that may contribute to ASD pathophysiology. When comparing ASD patients to controls, we found decreased connectivity between the left DN and cerebral regions known to be components of the ToM network and the default mode network, implicated in specific aspects of mentalizing, social cognition processing, and higher order emotional processes. Further, a pattern of overconnectivity was also detected between the left DN and the supramodal cerebellar lobules associated with the default mode network. The presented RS-fMRI data provide evidence that functional connectivity (FC) between the dentate nucleus and the cerebral cortex is altered in ASD patients. This suggests that the dysfunction reported within the cerebral cortical network, typically related to social features of ASDs, may be at least partially related to an impaired interaction between cerebellum and key cortical social brain regions.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Cerebellum, Cerebral cortex, Default mode network, Social cognition, Theory of mind
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Depositing User: Patricia Butler
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 08:32
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 19:03

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