Research highlight

Distorted brain connectivity in autism

Nature Neuroscience

January 20, 2015

The brains of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have areas of both increased and decreased functional connectivity compared to control subjects, reports a study published online in Nature Neuroscience. The magnitude of the individual distortion in connectivity patterns was correlated with the severity of behavioral symptoms of ASD.

Rafael Malach and colleagues studied functional imaging datasets comparing high-functioning adults with ASD to a control group of adults who did not have the disorder. The datasets measured connectivity between brain regions while participants were in a “resting state”. The authors found that individual variation in connectivity patterns in ASD adults was greater than for the control group, indicating the presence of areas of both increased and decreased connectivity in adults with ASD. This study helps to resolve discrepancies in previous studies reporting either increased or decreased connectivity in people with ASD and illuminates a key functional difference in the brains of these individuals that may help scientists better understand the disorder.

doi: 10.1038/nn.3919

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