Functional Neuroimaging Autism Spectrum Disorders, pp. 87-128
Authors: Gabriel S. Dichter, Antoinette Sabatino, Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Abstract: Autism spectrum disorders confer a profound burden on affected individuals, their families, and society. Research aimed at understanding the underlying pathophysiology of the disorder as well as the potential impact on brain systems of treatments that ameliorate symptoms are of profound importance. The past decade has witnessed a surge in the use of functional neuroimaging techniques, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in particular, to investigate in vivo the functioning of the brain in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Functional neuroimaging allows for the examination of neurofunctional abnormalities in autism as well as changes in brain functioning due to targeted treatments. Brain imaging techniques, in conjunction with behavioral and neuropsychological markers, may provide insights into dysfunctional neural mechanisms as well as clues to rational approaches to treatment. The purpose of this chapter is to review functional neuroimaging studies in autism with an emphasis on studies that tap core deficits of the disorder (i.e., deficits in social cognition and communication as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors). Future directions for research, and in particular novel treatment directions, are discussed as well.