Intrinsic Visual-Motor Synchrony Correlates With Social Deficits in Autism.

Mark McIntosh,'s picture
PubMed URL:
Mostofsky SH
Author List: 
Nebel MB
Eloyan A
Nettles CA
Sweeney KL
Ament K
Ward RE
Choe AS
Barber AD
Pekar JJ
Mostofsky SH
Biol Psychiatry
PubMed ID: 
Imitation, which is impaired in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and critically depends on the integration of visual input with motor output, likely impacts both motor and social skill acquisition in children with ASD; however, it is unclear what brain mechanisms contribute to this impairment. Children with ASD also exhibit what appears to be an ASD-specific bias against using visual feedback during motor learning. Does the temporal congruity of intrinsic activity, or functional connectivity, between motor and visual brain regions contribute to ASD-associated deficits in imitation, motor, and social skills?We acquired resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans from 100 8- to 12-year-old children (50 ASD). Group independent component analysis was used to estimate functional connectivity between visual and motor systems. Brain-behavior relationships were assessed by regressing functional connectivity measures with social deficit severity, imitation, and gesture performance scores.We observed increased intrinsic asynchrony between visual and motor systems in children with ASD and replicated this finding in an independent sample from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange. Moreover, children with more out-of-sync intrinsic visual-motor activity displayed more severe autistic traits, while children with greater intrinsic visual-motor synchrony were better imitators.Our twice replicated findings confirm that visual-motor functional connectivity is disrupted in ASD. Furthermore, the observed temporal incongruity between visual and motor systems, which may reflect diminished integration of visual consequences with motor output, was predictive of the severity of social deficits and may contribute to impaired social-communicative skill development in children with ASD.
Published Date: 
April, 2016

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