Local brain connectivity across development in autism spectrum disorder: A cross-sectional investigation

Dina R. Dajani, Lucina Q. Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


There is a general consensus that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is accompanied by alterations in brain connectivity. Much of the neuroimaging work has focused on assessing long-range connectivity disruptions in ASD. However, evidence from both animal models and postmortem examination of the human brain suggests that local connections may also be disrupted in individuals with the disorder. Here, we investigated how regional homogeneity (ReHo), a measure of similarity of a voxel's timeseries to its nearest neighbors, varies across age in individuals with ASD and typically developing (TD) individuals using a cross-sectional design. Resting-state fMRI data obtained from a publicly available database were analyzed to determine group differences in ReHo between three age cohorts: children, adolescents, and adults. In typical development, ReHo across the entire brain was higher in children than in adolescents and adults. In contrast, children with ASD exhibited marginally lower ReHo than TD children, while adolescents and adults with ASD exhibited similar levels of local connectivity as age-matched neurotypical individuals. During all developmental stages, individuals with ASD exhibited lower local connectivity in sensory processing brain regions and higher local connectivity in complex information processing regions. Further, higher local connectivity in ASD corresponded to more severe ASD symptomatology. These results demonstrate that local connectivity is disrupted in ASD across development, with the most pronounced differences occurring in childhood. Developmental changes in ReHo do not mirror findings from fMRI studies of long-range connectivity in ASD, pointing to a need for more nuanced accounts of brain connectivity alterations in the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalAutism Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Autism
  • Brain development
  • Regional homogeneity
  • Resting state functional MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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