Alterations in white matter microstructure and regional volume are related to motor functions in boys with autism spectrum disorder

Chia Wei Lin, Hsiang Yuan Lin, Yu Chun Lo, Yu Jen Chen, Yung Chin Hsu, Yi Lung Chen, Wen Yih Isaac Tseng, Susan Shur Fen Gau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Altered inter-regional structural connectivity related to higher cognitive functions has been commonly reported in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, whether these alterations similarly involve cortico-cerebellar motor circuitries remains largely elusive. Methods: Using a cross-modality approach accounting for in-scanner motion levels, we investigated white matter (WM) properties in motor circuits of 55 boys with ASD (aged 8–18 years) and 68 age-matched typically developing boys. Regional WM volumes in the primary motor, supplementary motor, somatosensory, and cerebellar areas were investigated using voxel-based morphometry. Diffusion spectrum imaging tractography was used to estimate WM integrity of the corticospinal, cortico-ponto-cerebellar (including fronto-ponto-cerebellar and parieto-ponto-cerebellar), and dentato-rubro-thalamo-cortical tracts. The reaction time test in the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery was used to assess motor performances. Results: Boys with ASD had shorter movement time, increased WM volumes in the left somatosensory area, but decreased generalized fractional anisotropy value in the left parieto-ponto-cerebellar tract, compared to controls. A positive correlation between movement time and microstructural properties of the left parieto-ponto-cerebellar tract was found in boys with ASD. Conclusions: As the first study to demonstrate altered WM properties in the left somatosensory area, and its descending pathway connecting to the cerebellum in ASD, current results may highlight a potential new target of interventions for motor performance in ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Diffusion spectrum imaging
  • Motor, white matter
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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