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Poster F119

Neural underpinnings of sensory phenotypes in Autism

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Ryan` Stevenson1 (, Matthew Kolisnyk1, Bobby Stojanoski2, EunJung Choi1, Hayes Liang1, Kathleen Lyons3; 1University of Western Ontario, 2University of Ontario Institute of Technology, 3King's University

Autistic individuals report sensory differences across modalities. While symptoms vary across individuals, we recently identified five distinct sensory phenotypes that differed in behavioral and clinical profiles. The neural mechanisms underlying sensory phenotypes in autism are unknown. We used resting-state functional connectivity to examine neural differences between sensory phenotypes in Autism. Data were extracted from the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders Network. 638 Autistic participants’ (Mage=9.8) parents completed the Short Sensory Profile (SSP). K-means clustering analyses grouped participants patterns of SSP subdomains. Five phenotypes were identified, 1) sensory adaptive, 2) generalized sensory differences, 3) taste/smell sensitivity, 4) under-responsive/sensory seeking, and 5) movement difficulties. We analyzed resting-state fMRI data in a subgroup of participants (N=147, Mage=11.8). We parcellated the brain based on the Schaefer Atlas and calculated functional-connectivity matrices for each participant. We calculated strength of connectivity across 7 functional networks from the Yeo parcellation. Pairwise comparisons for strength of within- and between-network connectivity were conducted across each phenotype (p<0.05, FRD corrected). Machine-learning algorithms were used to identify brain regions with the greatest ability to differentiate sensory phenotypes. Numerous differences in network connectivity were observed across phenotypes, including differences in limbic, default-mode, visual, and sensorimotor networks, including selective hyper- and hypo-connectivity. These results suggest that these distinct sensory phenotypes are associated with broad differences in the brain’s functional architecture, not only in low-level sensory networks, but also networks associated with higher-level cognitive processes. This reflects findings over the past decade that have shown that sensory differences cascade to influence higher-level cognitive development.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024