Poster D128, Monday, March 26, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Early stage brain topology alterations in low functioning autism
Aditya Jayashankar1, Sowmyashree Kaku1, Satish Girimaji1, Sonia Bansal1, Suril Gohel2, Rose Dawn Bharath1, Shoba Srinath1; 1National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India, 2School of Health Professions, Rutgers University
Objective – To examine the changes in whole brain topology and regional connectivity in 17 children of the ages 3 to 8 years with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we used resting state fMRI data scans in a 3T MRI scanner. Methodology– Patients were divided into two groups based on the severity of ASD, determined by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) scores (Mild, 30-36; Severe, >36). Data was preprocessed using the standard pipeline and independent component analysis (ICA) was used to extract regions of interest (ROI) to construct a correlation matrix representing the brain network. Following which, graph theory measures were calculated at sparsity 6% - 35% and statistically analyzed, and corrected for significance (FDR p<0.05). Clustering coefficient of the ROIs which revealed significant between-group (mild vs. severe) differences were used for correlation with clinical scores (CARS). Results – Children with severe ASD revealed significantly increased clustering coefficient and small-worldness compared to those with mild or moderate ASD. Regional analysis showed the Heschl’s gyrus exhibited altered clustering coefficient which significantly correlated with CARS scores. Conclusion – The findings from the current study provide early stage evidence of aberrant brain connectivity appearing in low-functioning ASD, prior to pruning mechanisms and environmental bias. Heschl’s gyrus clustering correlated to the severity of ASD symptoms and agrees with current literature on cortical changes associated with autism, reflecting nascent changes to language processing regions.
Topic Area: METHODS: Neuroimaging