Neural connectivity abnormalities in autism: Insights from the Tuberous Sclerosis model
1 MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park Road, Denmark Hill, London, SE5 8AF, UK
2 Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park Road, Denmark Hill, London, SE5 8AF, UK
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:55 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-55Published: 27 February 2013
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a behavioral syndrome caused by complex genetic and non-genetic risk factors. It has been proposed that these risk factors lead to alterations in the development and 'wiring' of brain circuits and hence, the emergence of ASD. Although several lines of research lend support to this theory, etiological and clinical heterogeneity, methodological issues and inconsistent findings have led to significant doubts. One of the best established, albeit rare, causes of ASD is the genetic condition Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), where 40% of individuals develop ASD. A recent study by Peters and Taquet et al. analyzed electroencephalography (EEG) data using graph theory to model neural 'connectivity' in individuals with TSC with and without ASD and cases with 'idiopathic' ASD. TSC cases exhibited global under-connectivity and abnormal network topology, whereas individuals with TSC + ASD demonstrated similar connectivity patterns to those seen in individuals with idiopathic ASD: decreased long- over short-range connectivity. The similarity in connectivity abnormalities in TSC + ASD and ASD suggest a common final pathway and provide further support for 'mis-wired' neural circuitry in ASD. The origins of the connectivity changes, and their role in mediating between the neural and the cognitive/behavioral manifestations, will require further study.