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Systematic review and meta-analysis: multimodal functional and anatomical neural alterations in autism spectrum disorder.

Molecular Autism 2024 April 5
BACKGROUND: This meta-analysis aimed to explore the most robust findings across numerous existing resting-state functional imaging and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies on the functional and structural brain alterations in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

METHODS: A whole-brain voxel-wise meta-analysis was conducted to compare the differences in the intrinsic functional activity and gray matter volume (GMV) between individuals with ASD and typically developing individuals (TDs) using Seed-based d Mapping software.

RESULTS: A total of 23 functional imaging studies (786 ASD, 710 TDs) and 52 VBM studies (1728 ASD, 1747 TDs) were included. Compared with TDs, individuals with ASD displayed resting-state functional decreases in the left insula (extending to left superior temporal gyrus [STG]), bilateral anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex (ACC/mPFC), left angular gyrus and right inferior temporal gyrus, as well as increases in the right supplementary motor area and precuneus. For VBM meta-analysis, individuals with ASD displayed decreased GMV in the ACC/mPFC and left cerebellum, and increased GMV in the left middle temporal gyrus (extending to the left insula and STG), bilateral olfactory cortex, and right precentral gyrus. Further, individuals with ASD displayed decreased resting-state functional activity and increased GMV in the left insula after overlapping the functional and structural differences.

CONCLUSIONS: The present multimodal meta-analysis demonstrated that ASD exhibited similar alterations in both function and structure of the insula and ACC/mPFC, and functional or structural alterations in the default mode network (DMN), primary motor and sensory regions. These findings contribute to further understanding of the pathophysiology of ASD.

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