Altered functional connectivity of the anterior insula in attention networks: Implications for female children with autism spectrum disorder Restricted; Files Only

Blair, Henry (Spring 2023)

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Although the anterior insula has been investigated in autism spectrum disorder for some time, there are conflicting findings about its functional connectivity. This project looks at sex independently and examines the functional connectivity between the anterior insula and various regions within the salience network and ventral attention network. We use ROI-to-ROI analyses to assess functional connectivity between the AI and regions of these two networks. All scans were preprocessed in a standard fashion, allowing us to perform connectivity analyses. Results demonstrated that there are significant differences in connectivity patterns between these networks and the anterior insula in autistic children - particularly within the temporoparietal junction and supramarginal gyrus. The increased connectivity within autistic females and decreased connectivity in autistic males highlight the importance of factoring sex into analyses on autism and in research on other developmental conditions. The preliminary results correlating resting-state functional connectivity in autistic females to autism symptom scores provide an example of how resting-state connectivity between the AI and VAN regions can be useful for estimating a patient's behavioral symptoms or severity of autism.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Hypotheses 5

Methods 6

Table 1. Subject Assessment measures 7

Table 2. ROIs created for targets of VAN/SN 11

Table 3. MNI Coordinates for the ROIs 11

Results 14

Figure 1. Connectivity of the right AI in males 15

Figure 2. Connectivity of the left AI in males 15

Table 4. Altered connectivity in autistic males 16

Figure 3. Connectivity of the right AI in females 17

Figure 4. Connectivity of the left AI in females 18

Table 5. Altered connectivity in autistic females 18

Figure 5. Regions whose FC  with the right AI varies according to sex 20

Figure 6. The difference between the effect of ASD in males and females 20

Figure 7. Difference in effect of ASD for the left AI in each sex (graph) 21

Figure 8. Difference in effect of ASD for the left AI in each sex (map) 21

Table 6. Summary of results in Figures 5-8 22

Table 7. Regression model between connectivity matricesand scores 23

Figure 9. SRS-2 Regression for (right AI → pSTG) matrix 24

Figure 10. SCQ Regression for (right AI → right pMTG) matrix 24

Figure 11. ADI-R Onset Total Score Regression for (right AI → right aSMG) matrix 25

Discussion 25

Conclusion 31

Supplementary Information 31

Bibliography 32

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