Advertisement

White matter structure in autism: preliminary evidence from diffusion tensor imaging

  • Naama Barnea-Goraly
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Naama Barnea-Goraly, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford CA 94305, USA.
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (NB-G, HK, VM, LL, ALR), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Hower Kwon
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (NB-G, HK, VM, LL, ALR), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Vinod Menon
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (NB-G, HK, VM, LL, ALR), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Stephan Eliez
    Affiliations
    Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (SE), Geneva University School of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland
    Search for articles by this author
  • Linda Lotspeich
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (NB-G, HK, VM, LL, ALR), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Allan L Reiss
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (NB-G, HK, VM, LL, ALR), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA
    Search for articles by this author

      Abstract

      Background

      Individuals with autism have severe difficulties in social communication and relationships. Prior studies have suggested that abnormal connections between brain regions important for social cognition may contribute to the social deficits seen in autism.

      Methods

      In this study, we used diffusion tensor imaging to investigate white matter structure in seven male children and adolescents with autism and nine age-, gender-, and IQ-matched control subjects.

      Results

      Reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) values were observed in white matter adjacent to the ventromedial prefrontal cortices and in the anterior cingulate gyri as well as in the temporoparietal junctions. Additional clusters of reduced FA values were seen adjacent to the superior temporal sulcus bilaterally, in the temporal lobes approaching the amygdala bilaterally, in occipitotemporal tracts, and in the corpus callosum.

      Conclusions

      Disruption of white matter tracts between regions implicated in social functioning may contribute to impaired social cognition in autism.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Biological Psychiatry
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Adolphs R.
        Social cognition and the human brain.
        Trends Cogn Sci. 1999; 3: 469-479
        • Adolphs R.
        The neurobiology of social cognition.
        Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2001; 11: 231-239
        • Adolphs R.
        • Baron-Cohen S.
        • Tranel D.
        Impaired recognition of social emotions following amygdala damage.
        J Cogn Neurosci. 2002; 14: 1264-1274
        • Allison T.
        • Puce A.
        • McCarthy G.
        Social perception from visual cues.
        Trends Cogn Sci. 2000; 4: 267-278
        • American Psychiatric Association
        Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
        4th ed. Author, Washington, DC1994
        • Anderson G.M.
        • Horne W.C.
        • Chatterjee D.
        • Cohen D.J.
        The hyperserotonemia of autism.
        Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1990; 600: 331-340
        • Baron-Cohen S.
        • Ring H.A.
        • Wheelwright S.
        • Bullmore E.T.
        • Brammer M.J.
        • Simmons A.
        • Williams S.C.
        Social intelligence in the normal and autistic brain.
        Eur J Neurosci. 1999; 11 (; discussion 341–342): 1891-1898
        • Basser P.J.
        Inferring microstructural features and the physiological state of tissues from diffusion-weighted images.
        NMR Biomed. 1995; 8: 333-344
        • Basser P.J.
        • Mattiello J.
        • LeBihan D.
        MR diffusion tensor spectroscopy and imaging.
        Biophys J. 1994; 66: 259-267
        • Basser P.J.
        • Pierpaoli C.
        Microstructural and physiological features of tissues elucidated by quantitative-diffusion-tensor MRI.
        J Magn Reson B. 1996; 111: 209-219
        • Brothers L.
        The social brain.
        Concepts Neurosci. 1990; 1: 27-151
        • Brunet E.
        • Sarfati Y.
        • Hardy-Bayle M.C.
        • Decety J.
        A PET investigation of the attribution of intentions with a nonverbal task.
        Neuroimage. 2000; 11: 157-166
        • Bush G.
        • Luu P.
        • Posner M.I.
        Cognitive and emotional influences in anterior cingulate cortex.
        Trends Cogn Sci. 2000; 4: 215-222
        • Castelli F.
        • Frith C.
        • Happe F.
        • Frith U.
        Autism, Asperger syndrome and brain mechanisms for the attribution of mental states to animated shapes.
        Brain. 2002; 125: 1839-1849
        • Castelli F.
        • Happe F.
        • Frith U.
        • Frith C.
        Movement and mind.
        Neuroimage. 2000; 12: 314-325
        • Chugani D.C.
        • Muzik O.
        • Behen M.
        • Rothermel R.
        • Janisse J.J.
        • Lee J.
        • Chugani H.T.
        Developmental changes in brain serotonin synthesis capacity in autistic and nonautistic children.
        Ann Neurol. 1999; 45: 287-295
        • Courchesne E.
        • Karns C.M.
        • Davis H.R.
        • Ziccardi R.
        • Carper R.A.
        • Tigue Z.D.
        • et al.
        Unusual brain growth patterns in early life in patients with autistic disorder.
        Neurology. 2001; 57: 245-254
        • Critchley H.D.
        • Daly E.M.
        • Bullmore E.T.
        • Williams S.C.
        • Van Amelsvoort T.
        • Robertson D.M.
        • et al.
        The functional neuroanatomy of social behaviour.
        Brain. 2000; 123: 2203-2212
      1. Damasio AR (1994): Descartes Error. New York: HarperCollins

        • Dreyfus C.F.
        Neurotransmitters and neurotrophins collaborate to influence brain development.
        Perspect Dev Neurobiol. 1998; 5: 389-399
        • Frith C.
        What do imaging studies tell us about the neural basis of autism?.
        Novartis Found Symp. 2003; 251: 149-166
        • Frith U.
        Mind blindness and the brain in autism.
        Neuron. 2001; 32 (; discussion 166–176, 281–297): 969-979
        • Gallagher H.L.
        • Happe F.
        • Brunswick N.
        • Fletcher P.C.
        • Frith U.
        • Frith C.D.
        Reading the mind in cartoons and stories.
        Neuropsychologia. 2000; 38: 11-21
        • Grady C.L.
        • Keightley M.L.
        Studies of altered social cognition in neuropsychiatric disorders using functional neuroimaging.
        Can J Psychiatry. 2002; 47: 327-336
        • Happe F.
        • Ehlers S.
        • Fletcher P.
        • Frith U.
        • Johansson M.
        • Gillberg C.
        • et al.
        “Theory of mind” in the brain. Evidence from a PET scan study of Asperger syndrome.
        Neuroreport. 1996; 8: 197-201
        • Haxby J.V.
        • Hoffman E.A.
        • Gobbini M.I.
        Human neural systems for face recognition and social communication.
        Biol Psychiatry. 2002; 51: 59-67
        • Kanwisher N.
        • McDermott J.
        • Chun M.M.
        The fusiform face area.
        J Neurosci. 1997; 17: 4302-4311
      2. Lord C, Rutter M, DiLavore P, Risi S (1999): Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services

        • Moseley M.E.
        • Wendland M.F.
        • Kucharczyk J.
        Magnetic resonance imaging of diffusion and perfusion.
        Top Magn Reson Imaging. 1991; 3: 50-67
        • Nelson K.B.
        • Grether J.K.
        • Croen L.A.
        • Dambrosia J.M.
        • Dickens B.F.
        • Jelliffe L.L.
        • et al.
        Neuropeptides and neurotrophins in neonatal blood of children with autism or mental retardation.
        Ann Neurol. 2001; 49: 597-606
      3. Pandya D (1986): Two Hemispheres—One Brain. New York: Allan Liss

        • Pierce K.
        • Muller R.A.
        • Ambrose J.
        • Allen G.
        • Courchesne E.
        Face processing occurs outside the fusiform “face area” in autism.
        Brain. 2001; 124: 2059-2073
        • Pierpaoli C.
        • Basser P.J.
        Toward a quantitative assessment of diffusion anisotropy.
        Magn Reson Med. 1996; 36 ([published erratum appears in Magn Reson Med 1997, 37:972]): 893-906
        • Puce A.
        • Allison T.
        • Bentin S.
        • Gore J.C.
        • McCarthy G.
        Temporal cortex activation in humans viewing eye and mouth movements.
        J Neurosci. 1998; 18: 2188-2199
        • Puce A.
        • Allison T.
        • Gore J.C.
        • McCarthy G.
        Face-sensitive regions in human extrastriate cortex studied by functional MRI.
        J Neurophysiol. 1995; 74: 1192-1199
        • Rapin I.
        Autistic children.
        Pediatrics. 1991; 87: 751-760
        • Rutter M.
        • Lord C.
        • LeCouteur A.
        Autism Diagnostic Interview—Revised.
        Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL1995
        • Schultz R.T.
        • Gauthier I.
        • Klin A.
        • Fulbright R.K.
        • Anderson A.W.
        • Volkmar F.
        • et al.
        Abnormal ventral temporal cortical activity during face discrimination among individuals with autism and Asperger syndrome.
        Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000; 57: 331-340
        • Schultz R.T.
        • Grelotti D.J.
        • Klin A.
        • Kleinman J.
        • Van der Gaag C.
        • Marois R.
        • Skudlarski P.
        The role of the fusiform face area in social cognition.
        Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003; 358: 415-427
        • Vanhala R.
        • Turpeinen U.
        • Riikonen R.
        Low levels of insulin-like growth factor-I in cerebrospinal fluid in children with autism.
        Dev Med Child Neurol. 2001; 43: 614-616
        • Warren R.P.
        • Singh V.K.
        Elevated serotonin levels in autism.
        Neuropsychobiology. 1996; 34: 72-75
        • Whitaker-Azmitia P.M.
        Serotonin and brain development.
        Brain Res Bull. 2001; 56: 479-485
        • Zhu J.
        Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence. Manual. Psychological Corporation, San Antonio1999