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Abnormal functional activation and maturation of fronto-striato-temporal and cerebellar regions during sustained attention in autism spectrum disorder

Murphy, C. M., Christakou, A., Daly, E. M., Ecker, C., Giampetro, V., Brammer, M., Smith, A. B., Johnston, P., Robertson, D. M., Murphy, D. G. and Rubia, K. (2014) Abnormal functional activation and maturation of fronto-striato-temporal and cerebellar regions during sustained attention in autism spectrum disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 171 (10). pp. 1107-1116. ISSN 0002-953X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.12030352

Abstract/Summary

Objective Sustained attention problems are common in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and may have significant implications for the diagnosis and management of ASD and associated comorbidities. Furthermore, ASD has been associated with atypical structural brain development. The authors used functional MRI to investigate the functional brain maturation of attention between childhood and adulthood in people with ASD. Method Using a parametrically modulated sustained attention/vigilance task, the authors examined brain activation and its linear correlation with age between childhood and adulthood in 46 healthy male adolescents and adults (ages 11–35 years) with ASD and 44 age- and IQ-matched typically developing comparison subjects. Results Relative to the comparison group, the ASD group had significantly poorer task performance and significantly lower activation in inferior prefrontal cortical, medial prefrontal cortical, striato-thalamic, and lateral cerebellar regions. A conjunction analysis of this analysis with group differences in brain-age correlations showed that the comparison group, but not the ASD group, had significantly progressively increased activation with age in these regions between childhood and adulthood, suggesting abnormal functional brain maturation in ASD. Several regions that showed both abnormal activation and functional maturation were associated with poorer task performance and clinical measures of ASD and inattention. Conclusions The results provide first evidence that abnormalities in sustained attention networks in individuals with ASD are associated with underlying abnormalities in the functional brain maturation of these networks between late childhood and adulthood.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Development
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:36874
Publisher:American Psychiatric Association

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