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Early alterations of social brain networks in young children with autism

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Sperdin Holger Franz, Coito Ana, Kojovic Nada, Rihs Tonia Anahi, Jan Reem Kais, Franchini Martina, Plomp Gijs, Vulliemoz Serge, Eliez Stephan, Michel Christoph Martin, Schaer Marie,
Project Exploring brain communication pathways by combining diffusion based quantitative structural connectivity and EEG source imaging : application to physiological and epileptic networks
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal eLife
Volume (Issue) 7
Page(s) 1
Title of proceedings eLife
DOI 10.7554/elife.31670

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Social impairments are a hallmark of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but empirical evidence for early brain network alterations in response to social stimuli is scant in ASD. We recorded the gaze patterns and brain activity of toddlers with ASD and their typically developing peers while they explored dynamic social scenes. Directed functional connectivity analyses based on electrical source imaging revealed frequency specific network atypicalities in the theta and alpha frequency bands, manifesting as alterations in both the driving and the connections from key nodes of the social brain associated with autism. Analyses of brain-behavioural relationships within the ASD group suggested that compensatory mechanisms from dorsomedial frontal, inferior temporal and insular cortical regions were associated with less atypical gaze patterns and lower clinical impairment. Our results provide strong evidence that directed functional connectivity alterations of social brain networks is a core component of atypical brain development at early stages of ASD.