Reorganization of functionally connected brain subnetworks in high-functioning autism.
ABSTRACT: Previous functional connectivity studies have found both hypo- and hyper-connectivity in brains of individuals having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here we studied abnormalities in functional brain subnetworks in high-functioning individuals with ASD during free viewing of a movie containing social cues and interactions. Twenty-six subjects (13 with ASD) watched a 68-min movie during functional magnetic resonance imaging. For each subject, we computed Pearson's correlation between haemodynamic time-courses of each pair of 6-mm isotropic voxels. From the whole-brain functional networks, we derived individual and group-level subnetworks using graph theory. Scaled inclusivity was then calculated between all subject pairs to estimate intersubject similarity of connectivity structure of each subnetwork. Additional 54 individuals (27 with ASD) from the ABIDE resting-state database were included to test the reproducibility of the results. Between-group differences were observed in the composition of default-mode and ventro-temporal-limbic (VTL) subnetworks. The VTL subnetwork included amygdala, striatum, thalamus, parahippocampal, fusiform, and inferior temporal gyri. Further, VTL subnetwork similarity between subject pairs correlated significantly with similarity of symptom gravity measured with autism quotient. This correlation was observed also within the controls, and in the reproducibility dataset with ADI-R and ADOS scores. Our results highlight how the reorganization of functional subnetworks in individuals with ASD clarifies the mixture of hypo- and hyper-connectivity findings. Importantly, only the functional organization of the VTL subnetwork emerges as a marker of inter-individual similarities that co-vary with behavioral measures across all participants. These findings suggest a pivotal role of ventro-temporal and limbic systems in autism.
Project description:Recently, the dimensional approach has attracted much attention, bringing a paradigm shift to a continuum of understanding of different psychiatric disorders. In line with this new paradigm, we examined whether there was common functional connectivity related to various psychiatric disorders in an unsupervised manner without explicitly using diagnostic label information. To this end, we uniquely applied a newly developed network-based multiple clustering method to resting-state functional connectivity data, which allowed us to identify pairs of relevant brain subnetworks and subject cluster solutions accordingly. Thus, we identified four subject clusters, which were characterized as major depressive disorder (MDD), young healthy control (young HC), schizophrenia (SCZ)/bipolar disorder (BD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), respectively, with the relevant brain subnetwork represented by the cerebellum-thalamus-pallidum-temporal circuit. The clustering results were validated using independent datasets. This study is the first cross-disorder analysis in the framework of unsupervised learning of functional connectivity based on a data-driven brain subnetwork.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and co-occurring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms have worse functional outcomes and treatment response than those without ADHD symptoms. There is limited knowledge of the neurobiology of ADHD symptoms in ASD. Here, we test the hypothesis that aberrant functional connectivity of two large-scale executive brain networks implicated in ADHD-the frontoparietal and salience/ventral attention networks-also play a role in ADHD symptoms in ASD. METHODS:We compared resting-state functional connectivity of the two executive brain networks in children with ASD (n = 77) and typically developing control children (n = 82). These two executive brain networks comprise five subnetworks (three frontoparietal, two salience/ventral attention). After identifying aberrant functional connections among subnetworks, we examined dimensional associations with parent-reported ADHD symptoms. RESULTS:Weaker functional connectivity in ASD was present within and between the frontoparietal and salience/ventral attention subnetworks. Decreased functional connectivity within a single salience/ventral attention subnetwork, as well as between two frontoparietal subnetworks, significantly correlated with ADHD symptoms. Furthermore, follow-up linear regressions demonstrated that the salience/ventral attention and frontoparietal subnetworks explain unique variance in ADHD symptoms. These executive brain network-ADHD symptom relationships remained significant after controlling for ASD symptoms. Finally, specificity was also demonstrated through the use of a control brain network (visual) and a control co-occurring symptom domain (anxiety). CONCLUSIONS:The present findings provide novel evidence that both frontoparietal and salience/ventral attention networks' weaker connectivities are linked to ADHD symptoms in ASD. Moreover, co-occurring ADHD in the context of ASD is a source of meaningful neural heterogeneity in ASD.
Project description:To refine our understanding of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), studies of the brain in dynamic, multimodal and ecological experimental settings are required. One way to achieve this is to compare the neural responses of ASD and typically developing (TD) individuals when viewing a naturalistic movie, but the temporal complexity of the stimulus hampers this task, and the presence of intrinsic functional connectivity (FC) may overshadow movie-driven fluctuations. Here, we detected inter-subject functional correlation (ISFC) transients to disentangle movie-induced functional changes from underlying resting-state activity while probing FC dynamically. When considering the number of significant ISFC excursions triggered by the movie across the brain, connections between remote functional modules were more heterogeneously engaged in the ASD population. Dynamically tracking the temporal profiles of those ISFC changes and tying them to specific movie subparts, this idiosyncrasy in ASD responses was then shown to involve functional integration and segregation mechanisms such as response inhibition, background suppression, or multisensory integration, while low-level visual processing was spared. Through the application of a new framework for the study of dynamic experimental paradigms, our results reveal a temporally localized idiosyncrasy in ASD responses, specific to short-lived episodes of long-range functional interplays.
Project description:The functional brain network has gained increased attention in the neuroscience community because of its ability to reveal the underlying architecture of human brain. In general, majority work of functional network connectivity is built based on the correlations between discrete-time-series signals that link only two different brain regions. However, these simple region-to-region connectivity models do not capture complex connectivity patterns between three or more brain regions that form a connectivity subnetwork, or subnetwork for short. To overcome this current limitation, a hypergraph learning-based method is proposed to identify subnetwork differences between two different cohorts. To achieve our goal, a hypergraph is constructed, where each vertex represents a subject and also a hyperedge encodes a subnetwork with similar functional connectivity patterns between different subjects. Unlike previous learning-based methods, our approach is designed to jointly optimize the weights for all hyperedges such that the learned representation is in consensus with the distribution of phenotype data, i.e. clinical labels. In order to suppress the spurious subnetwork biomarkers, we further enforce a sparsity constraint on the hyperedge weights, where a larger hyperedge weight indicates the subnetwork with the capability of identifying the disorder condition. We apply our hypergraph learning-based method to identify subnetwork biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analysis is performed, and the results show that our approach can correctly classify ASD and ADHD subjects from normal controls with 87.65 and 65.08% accuracies, respectively.
Project description:There has been sustained clinical and cognitive neuroscience research interest in how network correlates of brain-behavior relationships might be altered in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders. As previous work has mostly focused on adults, the nature of whole-brain connectivity networks underlying intelligence in pediatric cohorts with abnormal neurodevelopment requires further investigation. We used network-based statistics (NBS) to examine the association between resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) connectivity and fluid intelligence ability in male children (n = 50) with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD; M = 10.45, SD = 1.58 years and in controls (M?=?10.38, SD = 0.96 years) matched on fluid intelligence performance, age and sex. Repeat analyses were performed in independent sites for validation and replication. Despite being equivalent on fluid intelligence ability to strictly matched neurotypical controls, boys with ASD displayed a subnetwork of significantly increased associations between functional connectivity and fluid intelligence. Between-group differences remained significant at higher edge thresholding, and results were validated in independent-site replication analyses in an equivalent age and sex-matched cohort with ASD. Regions consistently implicated in atypical connectivity correlates of fluid intelligence in ASD were the angular gyrus, posterior middle temporal gyrus, occipital and temporo-occipital regions. Development of fluid intelligence neural correlates in young ASD males is aberrant, with an increased strength in intrinsic connectivity association during childhood. Alterations in whole-brain network correlates of fluid intelligence in ASD may be a compensatory mechanism that allows equal task performance to neurotypical peers.
Project description:The study of brain communication based on fMRI data is often limited because such measurements are a mixture of session-to-session variability with subject- and condition-related information. Disentangling these contributions is crucial for real-life applications, in particular when only a few recording sessions are available. The present study aims to define a reliable standard for the extraction of multiple signatures from fMRI data, while verifying that they do not mix information about the different modalities (e.g., subjects and conditions such as tasks performed by them). In particular, condition-specific signatures should not be contaminated by subject-related information, since they aim to generalize over subjects. Practically, signatures correspond to subnetworks of directed interactions between brain regions (typically 100 covering the whole brain) supporting the subject and condition identification for single fMRI sessions. The key for robust prediction is using effective connectivity instead of functional connectivity. Our method demonstrates excellent generalization capabilities for subject identification in two datasets, using only a few sessions per subject as reference. Using another dataset with resting state and movie viewing, we show that the two signatures related to subjects and tasks correspond to distinct subnetworks, which are thus topologically orthogonal. Our results set solid foundations for applications tailored to individual subjects, such as clinical diagnostic.
Project description:The personality trait neuroticism is a potent risk marker for psychopathology. Although the neurobiological basis remains unclear, studies have suggested that alterations in connectivity may underlie it. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to shed more light on the functional network organization in neuroticism. To this end, we applied graph theory on resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data in 120 women selected based on their neuroticism score. Binary and weighted brain-wide graphs were constructed to examine changes in the functional network structure and functional connectivity strength. Furthermore, graphs were partitioned into modules to specifically investigate connectivity within and between functional subnetworks related to emotion processing and cognitive control. Subsequently, complex network measures (ie, efficiency and modularity) were calculated on the brain-wide graphs and modules, and correlated with neuroticism scores. Compared with low neurotic individuals, high neurotic individuals exhibited a whole-brain network structure resembling more that of a random network and had overall weaker functional connections. Furthermore, in these high neurotic individuals, functional subnetworks could be delineated less clearly and the majority of these subnetworks showed lower efficiency, while the affective subnetwork showed higher efficiency. In addition, the cingulo-operculum subnetwork demonstrated more ties with other functional subnetworks in association with neuroticism. In conclusion, the 'neurotic brain' has a less than optimal functional network organization and shows signs of functional disconnectivity. Moreover, in high compared with low neurotic individuals, emotion and salience subnetworks have a more prominent role in the information exchange, while sensory(-motor) and cognitive control subnetworks have a less prominent role.
Project description:The establishment of a collaborative network of transcription factors (TFs) followed by decomposition and then construction of subnetworks is an effective way to obtain sets of collaborative TFs; each set controls a biological process or a complex trait. We previously developed eight gene association methods for genome-wide coexpression analysis between each TF and all other genomic genes and ?then? constructing collaborative networks of TFs but only one algorithm, called Triple-Link Algorithm, for building collaborative subnetworks. In this study, we developed two more algorithms, Single Seed-Growing Algorithm (SSGA) and Multi-Seed Growing Algorithm (MSGA), for building collaborative subnetworks of TFs by identifying the fully-linked triple-node seeds from a decomposed collaborative network and then growing them into subnetworks with two different strategies. The subnetworks built from the three algorithms described above were comparatively appraised in terms of both functional cohesion and intra-subnetwork association strengths versus inter-subnetwork association strengths. We concluded that SSGA and MSGA, which performed more systemic comparisons and analyses of edge weights and network connectivity during subnetwork construction processes, yielded more functional and cohesive subnetworks than Triple-Link Algorithm. Together, these three algorithms provide alternate approaches for acquiring subnetworks of collaborative TFs. We also presented a framework to outline how to use these three algorithms to obtain collaborative TF sets governing biological processes or complex traits.
Project description:Previous work identified a cognitive subtype of PTSD with impaired executive function (i.e., impaired EF-PTSD subtype) and aberrant resting-state functional connectivity between frontal parietal control (FPCN) and limbic (LN) networks. To better characterize this cognitive subtype of PTSD, this study investigated (1) alterations in specific FPCN and LN subnetworks and (2) chronicity of PTSD symptoms. In a post-9/11 veteran sample (N = 368, 89% male), we identified EF subgroups using a standardized neuropsychological battery and a priori cutoffs for impaired, average, and above-average EF performance. Functional connectivity between two subnetworks of the FPCN and three subnetworks of the LN was assessed using resting-state fMRI (n = 314). PTSD chronicity over a 1-2-year period was assessed using a reliable change index (n = 175). The impaired EF-PTSD subtype had significantly reduced negative functional connectivity between the FPCN subnetwork involved in top-down control of emotion and two LN subnetworks involved in learning/memory and social/emotional processing. This impaired EF-PTSD subtype had relatively chronic PTSD, while those with above-average EF and PTSD displayed greater symptom reduction. Lastly, FPCN-LN subnetworks partially mediated the relationship between EF and PTSD chronicity (n = 121). This study reveals (1) that an impaired EF-PTSD subtype has a specific pattern of FPCN-LN subnetwork connectivity, (2) a novel above-average EF-PTSD subtype displays reduced PTSD chronicity, and (3) both cognitive and neural functioning predict PTSD chronicity. The results indicate a need to investigate how individuals with this impaired EF-PTSD subtype respond to treatment, and how they might benefit from personalized and novel approaches that target these neurocognitive systems.