Connectivity in Context: Emphasizing Neurodevelopment in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published:February 28, 2015DOI:
      Convergent evidence from genetics, neuropathology, and functional neuroimaging implicates aberrant cortical connectivity in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Chromosomal variants associated with ASD include genes that are critical for synaptic structure and function, leading to a hypothesis that ASD results from a failure to establish necessary cortical connections, particularly in brain regions critical for social cognition and language (
      • Geschwind D.H.
      • Levitt P.
      Autism spectrum disorders: Developmental disconnection syndromes.
      ). Although brain connectivity has become a central concept in autism research, its operationalization varies widely among studies. Defined broadly, connectivity refers to associations between brain components that can range in scale from individual neurons to large brain regions spanning multiple neuroanatomic structures (
      • Rubinov M.
      • Sporns O.
      Complex network measures of brain connectivity: Uses and interpretations.
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      Linked Article

      • Altered Development and Multifaceted Band-Specific Abnormalities of Resting State Networks in Autism
        Biological PsychiatryVol. 77Issue 9
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          Extensive evidence indicates that cortical connectivity patterns are abnormal in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), showing both overconnectivity and underconnectivity. Since, however, studies to date have focused on either spatial or spectral dimensions, but not both simultaneously, much remains unknown about the nature of these abnormalities. In particular, it remains unknown whether abnormal connectivity patterns in ASD are driven by specific frequency bands, by spatial network properties, or by some combination of these factors.
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