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Frontostriatal functional connectivity correlates with repetitive behaviour across autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder


Akkermans, Sophie E A; Rheinheimer, Nicole; Bruchhage, Muriel M K; Durston, Sarah; Brandeis, Daniel; Banaschewski, Tobias; Boecker-Schlier, Regina; Wolf, Isabella; Williams, Steven C R; Buitelaar, Jan K; van Rooij, Daan; Oldehinkel, Marianne; TACTICS consortium (2019). Frontostriatal functional connectivity correlates with repetitive behaviour across autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 49(13):2247-2255.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are neurodevelopmental disorders with considerable overlap in terms of their defining symptoms of compulsivity/repetitive behaviour. Little is known about the extent to which ASD and OCD have common versus distinct neural correlates of compulsivity. Previous research points to potentially common dysfunction in frontostriatal connectivity, but direct comparisons in one study are lacking. Here, we assessed frontostriatal resting-state functional connectivity in youth with ASD or OCD, and healthy controls. In addition, we applied a cross-disorder approach to examine whether repetitive behaviour across ASD and OCD has common neural substrates. METHODS A sample of 78 children and adolescents aged 8-16 years was used (ASD n = 24; OCD n = 25; healthy controls n = 29), originating from the multicentre study COMPULS. We tested whether diagnostic group, repetitive behaviour (measured with the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised) or their interaction was associated with resting-state functional connectivity of striatal seed regions. RESULTS No diagnosis-specific differences were detected. The cross-disorder analysis, on the other hand, showed that increased functional connectivity between the left nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and a cluster in the right premotor cortex/middle frontal gyrus was related to more severe symptoms of repetitive behaviour. CONCLUSIONS We demonstrate the fruitfulness of applying a cross-disorder approach to investigate the neural underpinnings of compulsivity/repetitive behaviour, by revealing a shared alteration in functional connectivity in ASD and OCD. We argue that this alteration might reflect aberrant reward or motivational processing of the NAcc with excessive connectivity to the premotor cortex implementing learned action patterns.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are neurodevelopmental disorders with considerable overlap in terms of their defining symptoms of compulsivity/repetitive behaviour. Little is known about the extent to which ASD and OCD have common versus distinct neural correlates of compulsivity. Previous research points to potentially common dysfunction in frontostriatal connectivity, but direct comparisons in one study are lacking. Here, we assessed frontostriatal resting-state functional connectivity in youth with ASD or OCD, and healthy controls. In addition, we applied a cross-disorder approach to examine whether repetitive behaviour across ASD and OCD has common neural substrates. METHODS A sample of 78 children and adolescents aged 8-16 years was used (ASD n = 24; OCD n = 25; healthy controls n = 29), originating from the multicentre study COMPULS. We tested whether diagnostic group, repetitive behaviour (measured with the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised) or their interaction was associated with resting-state functional connectivity of striatal seed regions. RESULTS No diagnosis-specific differences were detected. The cross-disorder analysis, on the other hand, showed that increased functional connectivity between the left nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and a cluster in the right premotor cortex/middle frontal gyrus was related to more severe symptoms of repetitive behaviour. CONCLUSIONS We demonstrate the fruitfulness of applying a cross-disorder approach to investigate the neural underpinnings of compulsivity/repetitive behaviour, by revealing a shared alteration in functional connectivity in ASD and OCD. We argue that this alteration might reflect aberrant reward or motivational processing of the NAcc with excessive connectivity to the premotor cortex implementing learned action patterns.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Language:English
Date:1 October 2019
Deposited On:27 Nov 2018 13:35
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 08:06
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0033-2917
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291718003136
PubMed ID:30362446

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