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Subcortical Brain and Behavior Phenotypes Differentiate Infants With Autism Versus Language Delay

Institution:
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address: meghan.swanson@cidd.unc.edu.
Publication Date:
Nov-2017
Journal:
Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging
Volume Number:
2
Issue Number:
8
Pages:
664-672
Citation:
Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2017 Nov;2(8):664-672.
PubMed ID:
29560900
PMCID:
PMC5865637
Keywords:
ASD, Brain, Infancy, Language delay, Language profile, Subcortical structure
Appears in Collections:
NA-MIC
Sponsors:
U54 EB005149/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
P30 HD003110/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
T32 HD040127/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
K99 MH108700/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States
L30 HD085276/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
K01 MH101653/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States
R01 HD055741/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
Generated Citation:
Swanson M.R., Shen M.D., Wolff J.J., Elison J.T., Emerson R.W., Styner M.A., Hazlett H.C., Truong K., Watson L.R., Paterson S., Marrus N., Botteron K.N., Pandey J., Schultz R.T., Dager S.R., Zwaigenbaum L., Estes A.M., Piven J. Subcortical Brain and Behavior Phenotypes Differentiate Infants With Autism Versus Language Delay. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2017 Nov;2(8):664-672. PMID: 29560900. PMCID: PMC5865637.
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BACKGROUND: Younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are themselves at increased risk for ASD and other developmental concerns. It is unclear if infants who display developmental concerns, but are unaffected by ASD, share similar or dissimilar behavioral and brain phenotypes to infants with ASD. Most individuals with ASD exhibit heterogeneous difficulties with language, and their receptive-expressive language profiles are often atypical. Yet, little is known about the neurobiology that contributes to these language difficulties. METHODS: In this study, we used behavioral assessments and structural magnetic resonance imaging to investigate early brain structures and associations with later language skills. High-risk infants who were later diagnosed with ASD (n = 86) were compared with high-risk infants who showed signs of early language delay (n = 41) as well as with high- and low-risk infants who did not have ASD or language delay (n = 255 and 143, respectively). RESULTS: Results indicated that diminished language skills were evident at 12 months in infants with ASD and infants with early language delay. At 24 months of age, only the infants with ASD displayed atypical receptive-expressive language profiles. Associations between 12-month subcortical volumes and 24-month language skills were moderated by group status, indicating disordinal brain-behavior associations among infants with ASD and infants with language delay. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that there are different brain mechanisms influencing language development in infants with ASD and infants with language delay, and that the two groups likely experience unique sets of genetic and environmental risk factors.