Summary: Researchers have identified white matter connectivity patterns for only the core symptoms of autism. The study also reveals that many structural brain connectivity patterns previously thought to be associated with ASD also overlap with developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

Source: USC

A new study by an international research team led by USC scientists has linked white matter connectivity unique to the brains of autistic people to a signature in the brains of people with developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

Their findings appear today in Scientific reports.

Approximately 85 percent of people with autism have been diagnosed with ADHD, a condition that disrupts learning and motor control. DCD can impair daily activities such as typing, dressing, or walking, which can reduce a person’s social participation and satisfaction.

Identifying brain activity patterns in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and DCD populations is important because the prevalence of ASD and DCD confounds previous autism research, which at the time was only examining its core social correlates. Signs.

“As the scientific community learns more and more about DCD, we realize that white matter abnormalities previously identified in the autism literature may actually underlie this underlying motor pathology,” said Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, senior author of the study.

“Actually, that’s what our team found—many early research findings may not reflect the core symptoms of autism, but they may be co-occurring reflections of DCD.”

Aziz-Zadeh is an associate professor in the USC Chan Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, with joint appointments in the USC Dornsife Institute of Letters, Arts and Sciences Brain and Creativity, and the Department of Psychology.

She is the director of USC’s Center for Neuroscience of Cognition, which manages research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activities.

Aziz-Zadeh and his colleagues used MRI, a method to monitor functional brain communication, in children and adolescents aged 8 to 17 years who were assigned to one of three study groups. Those with possible DCD; and typically-developing individuals.

The images were analyzed, compared, and correlated with the motor and social behavior assessments that the participants completed.

This shows the appearance of the child's head
The researchers found that many structural brain connectivity patterns previously believed to be associated with autism overlapped with DCD. Image is in public domain.

The researchers found that many structural brain connectivity patterns previously believed to be associated with autism overlapped with DCD.

The team was able to identify three white matter tracts, the corpus callosum hyphae, that showed distinctly different connectivity when compared to the DCD and typically developing groups. inferior/anterior commissure and left middle cerebellar peduncle.

These differences were associated with autistic participants’ measures of emotional functioning and/or autism severity.

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This shows an older man playing the guitar and singing.

Brains of DCD children showed distinct white matter regions in the left cortico-spinal and cortico-pontine tracts.

“These results demonstrate that we can use advanced imaging to identify the social and other motor-related symptoms that characterize autism at the anatomical level of the brain,” said Emily Kilroy, first author of the publication and a former postdoctoral scholar in Aziz-Zadeh’s lab. During the data collection of the study.

“Of course, people are much more than just their brain anatomy, but this clarity and diversity at the anatomical level takes us one step closer to understanding the biological basis and expression of autism.”

Co-authors of the publication include Marzio Gerbella and Giacomo Rizzolatti, faculty at the University of Parma (Italy), and Peter Molfes, staff scientist at the NIH National Institute of Mental Health (Bethesada, MD). USC imaging scientist Lei Cao, postdoctoral scholar Laura Harrison and USC Chan occupational science doctoral students Christiana Butera and Aditya Jayashankar were also co-authors.

Financial support This publication is part of the “Neurobiological Basis of Heterogeneous Social and Motor Deficits” project, a $2.15 million grant from the NIH Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Services, 2015-2021 (R01 HD079432-01; PI). Aziz-Zadeh)

So autism research news

Author: Leigh Hopper
Source: USC
Contact: Leigh Hopper – USC
Image: The image is in the public domain.

Preliminary study: The findings are shown in Scientific reports

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