Brain resting-state networks in adolescents with high-functioning autism: Analysis of spatial connectivity and temporal neurodynamics

Antoine Bernas*, Evelien M. Barendse, Albert P. Aldenkamp, Walter H. Backes, Paul A. M. Hofman, Marc P. H. Hendriks, Roy P. C. Kessels, Frans M. J. Willems, Peter H. N. de With, Svitlana Zinger, Jacobus F. A. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Web of Science)


Introduction: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is mainly characterized by functional and communication impairments as well as restrictive and repetitive behavior. The leading hypothesis for the neural basis of autism postulates globally abnormal brain connectivity, which can be assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Even in the absence of a task, the brain exhibits a high degree of functional connectivity, known as intrinsic, or resting-state, connectivity. Global default connectivity in individuals with autism versus controls is not well characterized, especially for a high-functioning young population. The aim of this study is to test whether high-functioning adolescents with ASD (HFA) have an abnormal resting-state functional connectivity. Materials and Methods: We performed spatial and temporal analyses on resting-state networks (RSNs) in 13 HFA adolescents and 13 IQ- and age-matched controls. For the spatial analysis, we used probabilistic independent component analysis (ICA) and a permutation statistical method to reveal the RSN differences between the groups. For the temporal analysis, we applied Granger causality to find differences in temporal neurodynamics. Results: Controls and HFA display very similar patterns and strengths of resting-state connectivity. We do not find any significant differences between HFA adolescents and controls in the spatial resting-state connectivity. However, in the temporal dynamics of this connectivity, we did find differences in the causal effect properties of RSNs originating in temporal and prefrontal cortices. Conclusion: The results show a difference between HFA and controls in the temporal neurodynamics from the ventral attention network to the salience-executive network: a pathway involving cognitive, executive, and emotion-related cortices. We hypothesized that this weaker dynamic pathway is due to a subtle trigger challenging the cognitive state prior to the resting state.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00878
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • functional MRI
  • Granger causality
  • high-functioning autism
  • independent component analysis
  • resting-state brain connectivity
  • temporal neurodynamics
  • MRI
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Male
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Nerve Net/diagnostic imaging
  • Connectome/methods
  • Female
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Brain Mapping/methods
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder/physiopathology
  • Temporal Lobe/diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex/diagnostic imaging
  • Adolescent
  • Cognition/physiology

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