Atypical lateralization of motor circuit functional connectivity in children with autism is associated with motor deficits

Dorothea L. Floris, Anita D. Barber, Mary Beth Nebel, Mary Martinelli, Meng Chuan Lai, Deana Crocetti, Simon Baron-Cohen, John Suckling, James J Pekar, Stewart H Mostofsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Atypical lateralization of language-related functions has been repeatedly found in individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Few studies have, however, investigated deviations from typically occurring asymmetry of other lateralized cognitive and behavioural domains. Motor deficits are among the earliest and most prominent symptoms in individuals with ASC and precede core social and communicative symptoms. Methods: Here, we investigate whether motor circuit connectivity is (1) atypically lateralized in children with ASC and (2) whether this relates to core autistic symptoms and motor performance. Participants comprised 44 right-handed high-functioning children with autism (36 males, 8 females) and 80 typically developing control children (58 males, 22 females) matched on age, sex and performance IQ. We examined lateralization of functional motor circuit connectivity based on homotopic seeds derived from peak activations during a finger tapping paradigm. Motor performance was assessed using the Physical and Neurological Examination for Subtle Signs (PANESS). Results: Children with ASC showed rightward lateralization in mean motor circuit connectivity compared to typically developing children, and this was associated with poorer performance on all three PANESS measures. Conclusions: Our findings reveal that atypical lateralization in ASC is not restricted to language functions but is also present in circuits subserving motor functions and may underlie motor deficits in children with ASC. Future studies should investigate whether this is an age-invariant finding extending to adolescents and adults and whether these asymmetries relate to atypical lateralization in the language domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalMolecular Autism
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 14 2016

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Autistic Disorder
Language
Neurologic Examination
Physical Examination
Fingers
Seeds

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Intrinsic functional connectivity
  • Lateralization
  • Motor deficits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology

Cite this

Atypical lateralization of motor circuit functional connectivity in children with autism is associated with motor deficits. / Floris, Dorothea L.; Barber, Anita D.; Nebel, Mary Beth; Martinelli, Mary; Lai, Meng Chuan; Crocetti, Deana; Baron-Cohen, Simon; Suckling, John; Pekar, James J; Mostofsky, Stewart H.

In: Molecular Autism, Vol. 7, No. 1, 35, 14.07.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Floris, Dorothea L. ; Barber, Anita D. ; Nebel, Mary Beth ; Martinelli, Mary ; Lai, Meng Chuan ; Crocetti, Deana ; Baron-Cohen, Simon ; Suckling, John ; Pekar, James J ; Mostofsky, Stewart H. / Atypical lateralization of motor circuit functional connectivity in children with autism is associated with motor deficits. In: Molecular Autism. 2016 ; Vol. 7, No. 1.
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