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Behavioral disorders in kids with autism linked to reduced brain connectivity

Date:
April 18, 2019
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
More than a quarter of children with autism spectrum disorder are also diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders. Now researchers have identified a possible biological cause: a key mechanism that regulates emotion functions differently in the brains of the children who exhibit disruptive behavior.
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More than a quarter of children with autism spectrum disorder are also diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders. For the first time, Yale researchers have identified a possible biological cause: a key mechanism that regulates emotion functions differently in the brains of the children who exhibit disruptive behavior.

The study appears in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

"Disruptive behaviors such as aggression, irritability, and noncompliance are common in children with autism, and are among the main reasons for psychiatric treatment and even hospitalization," said Denis Sukhodolsky, senior author and associate professor in the Yale Child Study Center. "Yet, little is known about the biological underpinnings of behavioral problems in children with autism."

The first of its kind, the Yale study used fMRI scans conducted during an emotion perception task to compare the brain activity of autistic children who do and do not exhibit disruptive behavior. While in the scanner, the children were asked to view pictures of human faces that displayed calm or fearful expressions.

During the task, the researchers found reduced connectivity between the amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex -- a pathway critical to the regulation of emotion -- in the brains of children who exhibit disruptive behavior as compared to the brains of children who do not. "Reduced amygdala-ventrolateral prefrontal cortex functional connectivity was uniquely associated with disruptive behavior but not with severity of social deficits or anxiety, suggesting a distinct brain network that could be separate from core autism symptoms," explained Karim Ibrahim, first author and postdoctoral fellow in the Sukhodolsky lab.

"This finding points to a brain mechanism of emotion dysregulation in children with autism and offers a potential biomarker for developing targeted treatments for irritability and aggression in autism," said Sukhodolsky.

Other authors on this study include Jeffrey A. Eilbott, Pamela Ventola, George He, Kevin A. Pelphrey, and Gregory McCarthy.

Funding was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Yale University. Original written by Kendall Teare. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karim Ibrahim, Jeffrey A. Eilbott, Pamela Ventola, George He, Kevin A. Pelphrey, Gregory McCarthy, Denis G. Sukhodolsky. Reduced Amygdala–Prefrontal Functional Connectivity in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-occurring Disruptive Behavior. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.01.009

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Behavioral disorders in kids with autism linked to reduced brain connectivity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190418164340.htm>.
Yale University. (2019, April 18). Behavioral disorders in kids with autism linked to reduced brain connectivity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190418164340.htm
Yale University. "Behavioral disorders in kids with autism linked to reduced brain connectivity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190418164340.htm (accessed May 28, 2024).

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