FMRI correlates in autism spectrum disorder populations: evidence for intolerance of uncertainty
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Recent estimates of prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the United States exceeds 1.4%. Identifying neural correlates can provide important insight to help refine diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of ASD. A review of fMRI studies revealed activity and connectivity differences among brains of individuals with ASD compared to those without. Certain regions appear to activate differently based on task. In facial processing, hyperactivity of the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and insula is seen compared to controls, however the prefrontal cortex of individuals with ASD demonstrates hypoactivity in language processing and inhibition tasks. Studies on functional connectivity revealed both hypoconnectivity and hyperconnectivity of several brain regions. Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) describes a disposition toward incapacity for enduring that which is unknown or unpredictable. IU has been tied to restricted and repetitive behaviors seen in ASD. A review of fMRI studies on neural correlates of IU revealed hyperactivity of the insula with hypoactivity of the anterior cingulate cortex and prefrontal cortex. Through independently reviewing fMRI correlates of ASD and IU, it is revealed that the two share some patterns of altered activity and connectivity. It is thus proposed that IU can be an important conceptual framework for understanding ASD.
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