Working memory network alterations in high-functioning adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder
Number of pages
SourcePsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 72, 2, (2018), pp. 73-83
Article / Letter to editor
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Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
SubjectAll institutes and research themes of the Radboud University Medical Center; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Radboudumc 1: Alzheimer`s disease DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Aim: People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically have deficits in the working memory (WM) system. Working memory is found to be an essential chain in successfully navigating in the social world. We hypothesize that brain networks for WM have an altered network integrity in ASD compared to controls. Methods: 13 adolescents (1 female) with autistic disorder (n = 1), Asperger's disorder (n = 7), and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (n = 5), and 13 typically developing control adolescents (1 female) participated in this study. Functional MRI was performed using an n-back task and in resting state. Results: The analysis of the behavioral data revealed deficits in working memory performance in ASD, but only when tested to the limit. Adolescents with ASD showed lower binary global efficiency in the working memory network than the control group with n-back and resting state data. This correlated with diagnostic scores for total problems, reciprocity, and language. Conclusion: Adolescent with higher functioning autism have difficulty with the working memory system, which is typically compensated. Functional MRI markers of brain network organization in ASD are related to characteristics of autism as represented in diagnostic scores. Therefore, functional MRI provides neuronal correlates for memory difficulties in adolescents with ASD.
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