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Coordinated Information Generation and Mental Flexibility: Large-Scale Network Disruption in Children with Autism.


ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes deficits in social cognition, communication, and executive function. Recent neuroimaging studies suggest that ASD disrupts the structural and functional organization of brain networks and, presumably, how they generate information. Here, we relate deficits in an aspect of cognitive control to network-level disturbances in information processing. We recorded magnetoencephalography while children with ASD and typically developing controls performed a set-shifting task designed to test mental flexibility. We used multiscale entropy (MSE) to estimate the rate at which information was generated in a set of sources distributed across the brain. Multivariate partial least-squares analysis revealed 2 distributed networks, operating at fast and slow time scales, that respond completely differently to set shifting in ASD compared with control children, indicating disrupted temporal organization within these networks. Moreover, when typically developing children engaged these networks, they achieved faster reaction times. When children with ASD engaged these networks, there was no improvement in performance, suggesting that the networks were ineffective in children with ASD. Our data demonstrate that the coordination and temporal organization of large-scale neural assemblies during the performance of cognitive control tasks is disrupted in children with ASD, contributing to executive function deficits in this group.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4537433 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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