Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are at risk for a host of deleterious outcomes including impaired social relations, academic difficulties, disordered motor patterns, and comorbid psychopathology (substance use, depression, anxiety). While these behaviors limit the child’s and family’s functioning, the underlying causes of these diagnoses and underlying behaviors have not yet been explored. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the brain mechanisms associated with symptomatology and related behaviors. Mounting evidence has suggested that the cerebellum could play a key role in the etiology of both ADHD and ASD. This project aims to utilize high resolution imaging at 7 Tesla to investigate fine grained, structural differences in the cerebellum according to diagnosis.
Within the same sample of children (with and without ADHD and ASD), we will examine the relationship between cerebellar structure (as measured through MRI and SWI), diagnoses (ADHD, ASD, Typically developing; TD), and subsequent behavior. We aim to clarify these relationships to inform treatment and intervention targets and goals. We hypothesize that compared to TD controls, children: 1a) with autism will show reduced cerebellar cortical volumes within both right and left Crus I and II (lobule VII) and reduced volume of the dentate nucleus as compared to TD children and 1b) with ADHD will show reduced cerebellar cortical volumes within right Crus I and II (lobule VII) as well as within lobule IX.
Additionally, it is hypothesized that for children: 2a) with ASD, reduced cerebellar cortical volumes within right and left Crus I and II (lobule VII) and reduced volume of the dentate nucleus will correlate with severity of core social-communicative symptoms as well as impaired visual-motor control and 2b) children with ADHD, reduced cerebellar cortical volumes within right Crus I and II (lobule VII) will correlate with measures of ADHD symptom severity while reduced cerebellar cortical volumes within lobule IX will correlated with ADHD-associated impairments in motor control.