White matter structure in the uncinate fasciculus: Implications for socio-affective deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Psychiatry research Samson, A. C., Dougherty, R. F., Lee, I. A., Phillips, J. M., Gross, J. J., Hardan, A. Y. 2016; 255: 66-74


Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have social and communication deficits and difficulties regulating emotions. The brain bases of these socio-affective deficits are not yet clear, but one candidate is structural connectivity in the left uncinate fasciculus, which connects limbic temporal and frontal areas thought to be involved in socio-affective processing. In this study, we assessed white matter structure in the left and right uncinate fasciculus in 18 high-functioning individuals with ASD and 18 group-matched typically developing (TD) controls using Diffusion Tensor Imaging. To test specificity of the associations, we also examined the association between both uncinate fasciculi and restricted and repetitive behaviors. Compared to TD individuals, individuals with ASD had significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left and right uncinate. Group status significantly moderated the association between left uncinate and socio-affective deficits, indicating that within the ASD group, FA was associated with socio-affective deficits: Individuals with ASD with lower FA in the left uncinate had significantly more social and emotion regulation deficits. There was no association with restricted and repetitive behaviors. This study provides evidence that the left uncinate may play a critical role in socio-affective skills in individuals with ASD.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2016.08.004

View details for PubMedID 27552717