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Disconnectivity of the cortical ocular motor control network in autism spectrum disorders

Journal article
Authors T. Kenet
Elena V Orekhova
H. Bharadwaj
N. R. Shetty
E. Israeli
A. K. C. Lee
Y. Agam
Mikael Elam
R. M. Joseph
M. S. Hamalainen
D. S. Manoach
Published in Neuroimage
Volume 61
Issue 4
Pages 1226-1234
ISSN 1053-8119
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Pages 1226-1234
Language en
Keywords Autism, ASD, Connectivity, Alpha synchrony, MEG, frontal eye-field, anterior cingulate cortex, visually guided saccades, high-functioning autism, positron-emission-tomography, voxel-based, morphometry, space separation method, surface-based analysis, event-related fmri, preparatory set
Subject categories Neurosciences


Response inhibition, or the suppression of prepotent but contextually inappropriate behaviors, is essential to adaptive, flexible responding. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) consistently show deficient response inhibition during antisaccades. In our prior functional MRI study, impaired antisaccade performance was accompanied by reduced functional connectivity between the frontal eye field (FEF) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), regions critical to volitional ocular motor control. Here we employed magnetoencephalography (MEG) to examine the spectral characteristics of this reduced connectivity. We focused on coherence between FEF and dACC during the preparatory period of antisaccade and prosaccade trials, which occurs after the presentation of the task cue and before the imperative stimulus. We found significant group differences in alpha band mediated coherence. Specifically, neurotypical participants showed significant alpha band coherence between the right inferior FEF and right dACC and between the left superior FEF and bilateral dACC across antisaccade, prosaccade, and fixation conditions. Relative to the neurotypical group, ASD participants showed reduced coherence between these regions in all three conditions. Moreover, while neurotypical participants showed increased coherence between the right inferior FEF and the right dACC in preparation for an antisaccade compared to a prosaccade or fixation, ASD participants failed to show a similar increase in preparation for the more demanding antisaccade. These findings demonstrate reduced long-range functional connectivity in ASD, specifically in the alpha band. The failure in the ASD group to increase alpha band coherence with increasing task demand may reflect deficient top-down recruitment of additional neural resources in preparation to perform a difficult task. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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