Do distinct atypical cortical networks process biological motion information in adults with Autism Spectrum disorders?

McKay, L. S., Simmons, D. R. , McAleer, P. , Marojoram, D., Piggot, J. and Pollick, F. E. (2012) Do distinct atypical cortical networks process biological motion information in adults with Autism Spectrum disorders? NeuroImage, 59(2), pp. 1524-1533. (doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.08.033) (PMID:21888982)

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Whether people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) have a specific deficit when processing biological motion has been a topic of much debate. We used psychophysical methods to determine individual behavioural thresholds in a point-light direction discrimination paradigm for a small but carefully matched groups of adults (N = 10 per group) with and without ASDs. These thresholds were used to derive individual stimulus levels in an identical fMRI task, with the purpose of equalising task performance across all participants whilst inside the scanner. The results of this investigation show that despite comparable behavioural performance both inside and outside the scanner, the group with ASDs shows a different pattern of BOLD activation from the TD group in response to the same stimulus levels. Furthermore, connectivity analysis suggests that the main differences between the groups are that the TD group utilise a unitary network with information passing from temporal to parietal regions, whilst the ASD group utilise two distinct networks; one utilising motion sensitive areas and another utilising form selective areas. Furthermore, a temporal-parietal link that is present in the TD group is missing in the ASD group. We tentatively propose that these differences may occur due to early dysfunctional connectivity in the brains of people with ASDs, which to some extent is compensated for by rewiring in high functioning adults.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McAleer, Dr Phil and Pollick, Professor Frank and Simmons, Dr David
Authors: McKay, L. S., Simmons, D. R., McAleer, P., Marojoram, D., Piggot, J., and Pollick, F. E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:NeuroImage
Publisher:Elsevier B.V.
ISSN (Online):1095-9572
Published Online:23 August 2011

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
449881Social interaction - a cognitive-neurosciences approachSimon GarrodEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/E020933/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies