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Imbalance of Functional Connectivity and Temporal Entropy in Resting-State Networks in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Machine Learning Approach.

  • Author(s): Smith, Robert X
  • Jann, Kay
  • Dapretto, Mirella
  • Wang, Danny JJ
  • et al.

Background: Two approaches to understanding the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) involve network level functional connectivity (FC) and the dynamics of neuronal signaling. The former approach has revealed both increased and decreased FC in individuals with ASD. The latter approach has found high frequency EEG oscillations and higher levels of epilepsy in children with ASD. Together, these findings have led to the hypothesis that atypical excitatory-inhibitory neural signaling may lead to imbalanced association pathways. However, simultaneously reconciling local temporal dynamics with network scale spatial connectivity remains a difficult task and thus empirical support for this hypothesis is lacking. Methods: We seek to fill this gap by combining two powerful resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) methods-functional connectivity (FC) and wavelet-based regularity analysis. Wavelet-based regularity analysis is an entropy measure of the local rs-fMRI time series signal. We examined the relationship between the RSN entropy and integrity in individuals with ASD and controls from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) cohort using a putative set of 264 functional brain regions-of-interest (ROI). Results: We observed that an imbalance in intra- and inter-network FC across 11 RSNs in ASD individuals (p = 0.002) corresponds to a weakened relationship with RSN temporal entropy (p = 0.02). Further, we observed that an estimated RSN entropy model significantly distinguished ASD from controls (p = 0.01) and was associated with level of ASD symptom severity (p = 0.003). Conclusions: Imbalanced brain connectivity and dynamics at the network level coincides with their decoupling in ASD. The association with ASD symptom severity presents entropy as a potential biomarker.

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