Neural Correlates of Set-Shifting in Children With Autism.

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TitleNeural Correlates of Set-Shifting in Children With Autism.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsYerys, BE, Antezana, L, Weinblatt, R, Jankowski, KF, Strang, J, Vaidya, CJ, Schultz, RT, Gaillard, WD, Kenworthy, L
JournalAutism Res
Volume8
Issue4
Pagination386-97
Date Published2015 Aug
ISSN1939-3806
KeywordsAdolescent, Attention, Autistic Disorder, Brain, Brain Mapping, Child, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Set (Psychology)
Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often associated with high levels of inflexible thinking and rigid behavior. The neural correlates of these behaviors have been investigated in adults and older adolescents, but not children. Prior studies utilized set-shifting tasks that engaged multiple levels of shifting, and depended on learning abstract rules and establishing a strong prepotent bias. These additional demands complicate simple interpretations of the results. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of set-shifting in 20 children (ages 7-14) with ASD and 19 typically developing, matched, control children. Participants completed a set-shifting task that minimized nonshifting task demands through the use of concrete instructions that provide spatial mapping of stimuli-responses. The shift/stay sets were given an equal number of trials to limit the prepotent bias. Both groups showed an equivalent "switch cost," responding less accurately and slower to Switch stimuli than Stay stimuli, although the ASD group was less accurate overall. Both groups showed activation in prefrontal, striatal, parietal, and cerebellum regions known to govern effective set-shifts. Compared to controls, children with ASD demonstrated decreased activation of the right middle temporal gyrus across all trials, but increased activation in the mid-dorsal cingulate cortex/superior frontal gyrus, left middle frontal, and right inferior frontal gyri during the Switch vs. Stay contrast. The successful behavioral switching performance of children with ASD comes at the cost of requiring greater engagement of frontal regions, suggesting less efficiency at this lowest level of shifting.

DOI10.1002/aur.1454
Alternate JournalAutism Res
PubMed ID25599972
PubMed Central IDPMC4508240
Grant ListU54 MH066417 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
P30 HD026979 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30 HD040677 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
K23 MH086111 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R01 MH084961 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
K23MH086111 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
P30HD026979 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01MH084961 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
U54MH066417 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R21 MH092615 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
P30HD40677 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
M01RR020359 / RR / NCRR NIH HHS / United States
M01 RR020359 / RR / NCRR NIH HHS / United States
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