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Neuroimaging in Autism Spectrum Disorders 

Neuroimaging in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Neuroimaging in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Mikle South

, John D. Herrington

, and Sarah J. Paterson

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date: 31 July 2021

This chapter reviews several major themes in the neuroimaging of ASDs to date (see summary of representative themes in Table 3.1), including substantial and essential contributions from the modular framework. The chapter begins, however, with a discussion of several challenges related to the diversity of ASDs in terms of factors such as age, level of functioning, and symptom presentation. Progress in the ability to identify more homogenous subgroups, based on targeted phenotypic measures, opens the door to link neuroimaging with genetics findings and also with treatment outcome data. This should lead to better understanding of both the causes of ASDs and the best approaches to intervention. The chapter is divided according to two broad, related themes related to social information processing and cognitive factors in ASDs. Within these themes, the chapter considers evidence from both structural and functional imaging studies as well as relatively newer approaches to connectivity, including diffusion tensor imaging. The primary focus of this chapter is on research utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). Although several early neuroimaging studies utilized positron emission tomography scanning, these studies are rare now and are not addressed in depth. New techniques such as near-infrared spectroscopy suggest tremendous promise for noninvasive imaging of expanded age groups and severity levels of ASDs; however, these studies are also few in number and are touched on only briefly.

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