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FUNCTIONAL BRAIN CONNECTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH REPETITIVE BEHAVIOR IN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

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Date Issued:
2021
Abstract/Description:
The high prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) results in large costs to individuals, families, and society. Among diagnosed individuals, restrictive and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) correlate with functional impairments substantially impacting wellbeing but remain less studied than social and communication deficits. Brain resting-state functional connectivity (fc) measures intrinsic, potentially RRB-associated neural dynamics. Here, whole-brain (WB), and iterated seed-based (SB)fc guided by the preceding WBfc and a priori hypotheses was performed. Combined results were used to model a brain network beginning with qualitative assessment of its potential functional association with RRBs. Once rigorously defined, the network was used to inform construction of a dynamical systems model of brain activity hypothesized to correlate with RRB severity. Qualitative model behavior tracked expectations of real cortical activity in RRB presentation. Model numerical output was found to correlate with behavioral measures of RRBs to a significantly greater degree than the underlying brain connectivity values themselves did. Some summary measures of model output were also found to correlate significantly, though near threshold, with severity measures in the other two ASD core deficit domains, and particularly, far more extensively than should be expected given the underlying brain connectivity values themselves were apparently effectively wholly uncorrelated with the measures. Significant findings are: (1) dynamical modeling of brain activity can identify significant correlations with symptom manifestation that fc alone cannot; (2) dynamical modeling of brain activity could potentially increase understanding of ASD’s extensive heterogeneity across symptom domains; (3) extensive overlap between the constructed network and known RRB-implicated brain divisions was identified, with cerebellum, increasingly implicated in distributed neocortical functional differences in RRBs in humans and animal models, centrally connected to multiple such divisions; (4) further overlap is found via striatal circuitry, implicated in multiple RRB-like behaviors previously, and forming at least 1/3 of the functional basis for the network’s hypothetical relationship with RRBs; (5) ASD-associated angular gyrus, PFC, ACC overlap was found. This successful tandem application of fc, dynamical modeling, and neurocognitive network theory illustrates the need for broad theoretical approaches in illuminating ASD heterogeneity and the neurocognitive underpinnings of specific ASD presentations.
Title: FUNCTIONAL BRAIN CONNECTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH REPETITIVE BEHAVIOR IN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER.
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Name(s): MacDowell, Kenton Hayes, author
Sheremata, Summer L., Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2021
Date Issued: 2021
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 354 p.
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The high prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) results in large costs to individuals, families, and society. Among diagnosed individuals, restrictive and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) correlate with functional impairments substantially impacting wellbeing but remain less studied than social and communication deficits. Brain resting-state functional connectivity (fc) measures intrinsic, potentially RRB-associated neural dynamics. Here, whole-brain (WB), and iterated seed-based (SB)fc guided by the preceding WBfc and a priori hypotheses was performed. Combined results were used to model a brain network beginning with qualitative assessment of its potential functional association with RRBs. Once rigorously defined, the network was used to inform construction of a dynamical systems model of brain activity hypothesized to correlate with RRB severity. Qualitative model behavior tracked expectations of real cortical activity in RRB presentation. Model numerical output was found to correlate with behavioral measures of RRBs to a significantly greater degree than the underlying brain connectivity values themselves did. Some summary measures of model output were also found to correlate significantly, though near threshold, with severity measures in the other two ASD core deficit domains, and particularly, far more extensively than should be expected given the underlying brain connectivity values themselves were apparently effectively wholly uncorrelated with the measures. Significant findings are: (1) dynamical modeling of brain activity can identify significant correlations with symptom manifestation that fc alone cannot; (2) dynamical modeling of brain activity could potentially increase understanding of ASD’s extensive heterogeneity across symptom domains; (3) extensive overlap between the constructed network and known RRB-implicated brain divisions was identified, with cerebellum, increasingly implicated in distributed neocortical functional differences in RRBs in humans and animal models, centrally connected to multiple such divisions; (4) further overlap is found via striatal circuitry, implicated in multiple RRB-like behaviors previously, and forming at least 1/3 of the functional basis for the network’s hypothetical relationship with RRBs; (5) ASD-associated angular gyrus, PFC, ACC overlap was found. This successful tandem application of fc, dynamical modeling, and neurocognitive network theory illustrates the need for broad theoretical approaches in illuminating ASD heterogeneity and the neurocognitive underpinnings of specific ASD presentations.
Identifier: FA00013792 (IID)
Degree granted: Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2021.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): Autism spectrum disorders
Behavior
Neurocommunication
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00013792
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.