Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Structural Neural Phenotype of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Heterogeneous and Distributed Abnormalities in the Social Brain and its Long-Range Connectivity
by Jou, Roger J., Ph.D., Yale University, 2012, 155; 3525200
Abstract (Summary)

The heterogeneity of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be summarized by the following maxim: "If you've seen one person with autism, then you've seen ONE person with autism." Ironically, much of the research into the neurobiology of ASD has made the opposite assumption, searching for a unifying anomaly to explain what is currently accepted as a broad spectrum of disorders. Despite decades of research, the underlying neurobiology of ASD remains unclear, suggesting the timely need for a paradigm shift. Given that there is tremendous heterogeneity in the behavioral phenotype strongly suggests a heterogeneous neural phenotype within the limits of a "social brain" model where widely dispersed cortical nodes and their long-range connectivity must be intact. According to this model, the core symptoms of ASD can arise from a variety of structural defects including abnormalities of gray matter (processing nodes), white matter (neural connectivity), or any combination of these. This dissertation contains a series of studies using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), demonstrating that a maxim similar to the aforementioned also applies for the neurobiology of ASD. Using structural MRI, volumetric studies point to abnormal processing nodes and cortical folding studies suggest aberrant neural circuitry. DTI studies point to widespread impairments in long-range cortico-cortical connectivity and expression of illness may depend on pattern of impairment. In summary, the neural phenotype of ASD mirrors the behavioral phenotype, consisting of heterogeneous and distributed abnormalities in social brain modules and its long-range connectivity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Duncan, James S., Volkmar, Fred R.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Neurosciences, Mental health, Behavioral psychology
Keywords: Abnormalities, Autism spectrum disorder, Fiber tracts, Long-range connectivity, Neuroimaging, Social brain
Publication Number: 3525200
ISBN: 978-1-267-57485-5
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