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Abnormal functional specialization within medial prefrontal cortex in high-functioning autism: a multi-voxel similarity analysis

Gilbert, SJ; Meuwese, JDI; Towgood, KJ; Frith, CD; Burgess, PW; (2009) Abnormal functional specialization within medial prefrontal cortex in high-functioning autism: a multi-voxel similarity analysis. BRAIN , 132 869 - 878. 10.1093/brain/awn365. Green open access

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Abstract

Multi-voxel pattern analyses have proved successful in decoding mental states from fMRI data, but have not been used to examine brain differences associated with atypical populations. We investigated a group of 16 (14 males) high-functioning participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 16 non-autistic control participants (12 males) performing two tasks (spatial/verbal) previously shown to activate medial rostral prefrontal cortex (mrPFC). Each task manipulated: (i) attention towards perceptual versus self-generated information and (ii) reflection on another persons mental state (mentalizingversus non-mentalizing) in a 2 2 design. Behavioral performance and group-level fMRI results were similar between groups. However, multi-voxel similarity analyses revealed strong differences. In control participants, the spatial distribution of activity generalized significantly between task contexts (spatial/verbal) when examining the same function (attention/mentalizing) but not when comparing different functions. This pattern was disrupted in the ASD group, indicating abnormal functional specialization within mrPFC, and demonstrating the applicability of multi-voxel pattern analysis to investigations of atypical populations.

Type: Article
Title: Abnormal functional specialization within medial prefrontal cortex in high-functioning autism: a multi-voxel similarity analysis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/brain/awn365
Publisher version: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC26689...
Keywords: Asperger syndrome, autism, Brodmann Area 10, fMRI, medial prefrontal cortex, EXECUTIVE FUNCTION, SPECTRUM DISORDERS, PROSPECTIVE MEMORY, MENTAL STATES, HUMAN BRAIN, FMRI, REGIONS, AREA-10
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Neurology
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/15621
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