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Increased left hemisphere impairment in high-functioning autism: a tract based spatial statistics study

Thomas John Perkins, Mark Andrew Stokes, Jane Anne McGillivray, Alexander Julien Mussap, Ivanna Anne Cox, Jerome Joseph Maller, Richard Garth Bittar
Psychiatry Research 2014 November 30, 224 (2): 119-23
25159311
There is evidence emerging from Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) research that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with greater impairment in the left hemisphere. Although this has been quantified with volumetric region of interest analyses, it has yet to be tested with white matter integrity analysis. In the present study, tract based spatial statistics was used to contrast white matter integrity of 12 participants with high-functioning autism or Aspergers syndrome (HFA/AS) with 12 typically developing individuals. Fractional Anisotropy (FA) was examined, in addition to axial, radial and mean diffusivity (AD, RD and MD). In the left hemisphere, participants with HFA/AS demonstrated significantly reduced FA in predominantly thalamic and fronto-parietal pathways and increased RD. Symmetry analyses confirmed that in the HFA/AS group, WM disturbance was significantly greater in the left compared to right hemisphere. These findings contribute to a growing body of literature suggestive of reduced FA in ASD, and provide preliminary evidence for RD impairments in the left hemisphere.

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