Visuomotor brain network activation and functional connectivity among individuals with autism spectrum disorder

Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 Oct 30. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25692. Online ahead of print.


Sensorimotor abnormalities are common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and predictive of functional outcomes, though their neural underpinnings remain poorly understood. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined both brain activation and functional connectivity during visuomotor behavior in 27 individuals with ASD and 30 typically developing (TD) controls (ages 9-35 years). Participants maintained a constant grip force while receiving visual feedback at three different visual gain levels. Relative to controls, ASD participants showed increased force variability, especially at high gain, and reduced entropy. Brain activation was greater in individuals with ASD than controls in supplementary motor area, bilateral superior parietal lobules, and contralateral middle frontal gyrus at high gain. During motor action, functional connectivity was reduced between parietal-premotor and parietal-putamen in individuals with ASD compared to controls. Individuals with ASD also showed greater age-associated increases in functional connectivity between cerebellum and visual, motor, and prefrontal cortical areas relative to controls. These results indicate that visuomotor deficits in ASD are associated with atypical activation and functional connectivity of posterior parietal, premotor, and striatal circuits involved in translating sensory feedback information into precision motor behaviors, and that functional connectivity of cerebellar-cortical sensorimotor and nonsensorimotor networks show delayed maturation.

PMID:34716740 | DOI:10.1002/hbm.25692

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