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Brain surface anatomy in adults with autism: the relationship between surface area, cortical thickness, and autistic symptoms

Ecker, C; Ginestet, C; Feng, Y; Johnston, P; Lombardo, MV; Lai, M-C; Suckling, J; ... MRC AIMS Consortium, .; + view all (2013) Brain surface anatomy in adults with autism: the relationship between surface area, cortical thickness, and autistic symptoms. JAMA Psychiatry , 70 (1) pp. 59-70. 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.265. Green open access

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Abstract

CONTEXT: Neuroimaging studies of brain anatomy in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have mostly been based on measures of cortical volume (CV). However, CV is a product of 2 distinct parameters, cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA), that in turn have distinct genetic and developmental origins. OBJECTIVE: To investigate regional differences in CV, SA, and CT as well as their relationship in a large and well-characterized sample of men with ASD and matched controls. DESIGN: Multicenter case-control design using quantitative magnetic resonance imaging. SETTING: Medical Research Council UK Autism Imaging Multicentre Study. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 168 men, 84 diagnosed as having ASD and 84 controls who did not differ significantly in mean (SD) age (26 [7] years vs 28 [6] years, respectively) or full-scale IQ (110 [14] vs 114 [12], respectively). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Between-group differences in CV, SA, and CT investigated using a spatially unbiased vertex-based approach; the degree of spatial overlap between the differences in CT and SA; and their relative contribution to differences in regional CV. RESULTS: Individuals with ASD differed from controls in all 3 parameters. These mainly consisted of significantly increased CT within frontal lobe regions and reduced SA in the orbitofrontal cortex and posterior cingulum. These differences in CT and SA were paralleled by commensurate differences in CV. The spatially distributed patterns for CT and SA were largely nonoverlapping and shared only about 3% of all significantly different locations on the cerebral surface. CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with ASD have significant differences in CV, but these may be underpinned by (separable) variations in its 2 components, CT and SA. This is of importance because both measures result from distinct developmental pathways that are likely modulated by different neurobiological mechanisms. This finding may provide novel targets for future studies into the etiology of the condition and a new way to fractionate the disorder.

Type: Article
Title: Brain surface anatomy in adults with autism: the relationship between surface area, cortical thickness, and autistic symptoms
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.265
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.265
Language: English
Additional information: This is the published version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Adolescent, Adult, Autistic Disorder, Case-Control Studies, Cerebral Cortex, Child, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Surface Properties, Young Adult
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Med Phys and Biomedical Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10022883
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