Shape Analysis of Subcortical Structures in Autism and ADHD

Visualization of volumetric abonormalities in the basal ganglia.

Basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, globus pallidus) abnormalities have been suggested as contributing to motor, social, and communicative impairments in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Also, volumetric abnormalities of basal ganglia have been associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), especially in boys. However, volumetric analyses offer limited ability to detect localized differences in basal ganglia structure. We have investigated basal ganglia shape abnormalities and their association with behavioral features of ASD, which may involve multiple frontal-subcortical circuits. To specify localization of these abnormalities, large deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping (LDDMM) was used to examine the effects of ADHD or ASD, sex, and their interaction on basal ganglia shapes.

Motor, social, and communicative impairments in boys with ASD were found to be associated with shape abnormalities in the basal ganglia. The findings suggest abnormalities within parallel frontal-subcortical circuits are differentially associated with impaired acquisition of motor and reciprocal social and communicative skills in ASD. Shape compression pattern of basal ganglia in boys with ADHD suggests that ADHD-associated deviations from typical brain development involve multiple frontal-subcortical control loops, including circuits with premotor, oculomotor, and prefrontal cortices.

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