Functional MRI in Asperger Syndrome and their relatives

The ARC was the first group to show orbito-frontal and amygdala underactivity in the autistic brain using SPECT (single photon emission tomography) and later fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) during empathy or 'mentalising' tasks. These regions have been recognized to be part of the 'social brain', a network of regions that includes medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate, which do not function in the normal way in autism. We have also used fMRI during attentional tasks (such as the Embedded Figures Task in the visual modality or acoustic change-detection tasks in the auditory modality) to reveal the brain basis of the superior attention to detail in autism. Some of these studies have also been conducted in parents or siblings of people with autism, to reveal the genetically-based dimension to these neural differences. Our current studies involve developing new empathy and systemizing tasks for use in neuroimaging to detect key differences between cases and controls, and to use a genetic design to test the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms on brain activity. The ARC was a collaborator on the MRC AIMS (Autism Imaging Multicentre Study) and is a collaborator on the EU-AIMS study.

 

Selected References

633: C M Murphy, A Christakou, E M Daly, C Ecker, V Giampietro, M Brammer, A B Smith, P Johnston, D M Robertson (2014)
Abnormal Functional Activation and Maturation of Fronto-Striato-Temporal and Cerebellar Regions During Sustained Attention in Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Psychiatry 171:1107–1116

626: J Suckling, J Henty, C Ecker, S Deoni, M Lombardo, S Baron-Cohen, P Jezzard, A Barnes, B Chakrabarti, C Ooi, M-C Lai, S Williams, D Murphy, E Bullmore, the MRC AIMS Consortium (2014)
Are Power Calculations Useful? A Multicentre Neuroimaging Study
Human Brain Mapping 35:3569–3577

617: R Holt, L Chura, M-C Lai, J Suckling, E von dem Hagen, A Calder, E Bullmore, S Baron-Cohen, M Spencer (2014)
‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’: an fMRI study of adolescents with autism and their siblings
Psychological Medicine 44:3215-3227

563: L Fonville, N Lao-Kaim, V Giampietro, F Van den Eynde, H Davies, N Lounes, C Andrew, J Dalton, A Simmons, S Williams, S Baron-Cohen, K Tchanturia (2013)
Evaluation of Enhanced Attention to Local Detail in Anorexia Nervosa Using the Embedded Figures Test; an fMRI Study
PLoS ONE 8(5):e63964

491: M. Lombardo, B. Chakrabarti; E. Bullmore, MRC AIMS Consortium, S. Baron-Cohen (2011)
Specialization of right temporo-parietal junction for mentalizing and its relation to social impairments in autism
NeuroImage 56:1832-1838

491: M. Lombardo, B. Chakrabarti; E. Bullmore, MRC AIMS Consortium, S. Baron-Cohen (2011)
Specialization of right temporo-parietal junction for mentalizing and its relation to social impairments in autism
NeuroImage 56:1832-1838

455: M. Lombardo, B. Chakrabarti, E. Bullmore, S. Sadek, G. Pasco, S. Wheelwright, J. Suckling, MRC AIMS Consortium, S. Baron-Cohen (2010)
Atypical neural self-representation in autism
Brain 133:611-624

359: C. Ashwin, E. Chapman, L. Colle and S. Baron-Cohen (2006)
Impaired recognition of negative basic emotions in autism: A test of the amygdala theory
Social Neuroscience 1:349-363

358: B. Chakrabarti, E. Bullmore and S. Baron-Cohen (2006)
Empathizing with basic emotions: Common and discrete neural substrates
Social Neuroscience 1:364-384

341: M. Gomot, F. A. Bernard, M. H. Davis, M. K. Belmonte, C. Ashwin, E. T. Bullmore and S. Baron- Cohen (2006)
Change detection in children with autism: an auditory event-related fMRI study
NeuroImage 29:475-484

317: B. Chakrabarti, L. Kent, J. Suckling, E. Bullmore and S. Baron-Cohen (2006)
Variations in the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene modulate striatal responses to happy faces
European Journal of Neuroscience 23:1944-1948

324: D. E. Welchew, C. Ashwin, K. Berkouk, R. Salvador, J. Suckling, S. Baron-Cohen and E. Bullmore (2005)
Functional Disconnectivity of the Medial Temporal Lobe in Asperger's Syndrome
Biological Psychiatry 57:991-998

137: S. Baron-Cohen, H. Ring, S. Wheelwright, E. T. Bullmore, M. J. Brammer, A. Simmons and S. Williams (1999)
Social intelligence in the normal and autistic brain: an fMRI study
European Journal of Neuroscience 11:1891-1898

120: H. Ring, S. Baron-Cohen, S. Williams, S. Wheelwright, E. Bullmore, M. Brammer and C. Andrew (1999)
Cerebral correlates of preserved cognitive skills in autism: A functional MRI study of Embedded Figures Task performance
Brain 122:1305-1315


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