Accepted on 27-10-2021

The directionality of fronto-posterior brain connectivity is associated with the degree of individual autistic traits.

Tarasi L, Magosso E, Ricci G, Ursino M, Romei V.

Altered patterns of brain connectivity have been found in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and associated with specific symptoms and behavioral features. Growing evidence suggests that the autistic peculiarities are not confined to the clinical population but extend along a continuum between healthy and maladaptive conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a differentiated connectivity pattern could also be tracked along the continuum of autistic traits in a non-clinical population. A Granger causality analysis conducted on a resting-state EEG recording showed that connectivity along the posterior-frontal gradient is sensitive to the magnitude of individual autistic traits and mostly conveyed through fast oscillatory activity. Specifically, participants with higher autistic traits were characterized by a prevalence of ascending connections starting from posterior regions ramping the cortical hierarchy. These findings point to the presence of a tendency within the neural mapping of individuals with higher autistic features in conveying proportionally more bottom-up information. This pattern of findings mimics those found in clinical forms of autism, supporting the idea of a neurobiological continuum between autistic traits and ASD.

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