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Altered cingulum bundle microstructure in autism spectrum disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2013

Stephanie H. Ameis
Department of Psychiatry, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Jin Fan
Department of Psychology, Queens College, The City University of New York, Flushing, NY, USA Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
Conrad Rockel
Department of Psychiatry, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Latha Soorya
Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
A. Ting Wang
Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
Evdokia Anagnostou*
Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA Department of Pediatrics, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Bloorview Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Evdokia Anagnostou, Department of Pediatrics, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Bloorview Research Institute, University of Toronto, 150 Kilgour Road, Toronto, ON, Canada M4G 1R8. Tel: +1 (416) 425-6220 ext. 6005; Fax: +1 (416) 422-7036; E-mail:



Here, we examined the cingulum bundle, a long-range white matter tract mediating dorsal limbic connectivity, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography, in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) versus controls. We hypothesised that cingulum bundle microstructure would be altered in ASD, based on evidence implicating abnormal white matter connectivity in this disorder.


DTI data were acquired for 19 ASD participants (IQ ⩾ 70; 7–18 years; mean = 12.4 ± 3.1) and 16 age-matched controls (7–18 years; mean = 12.3 ± 3.6) on a 3 T magnetic resonance imaging system. Deterministic tractography was used to isolate the cingulum bundle. Left and right cingulum bundles were examined for differences in several DTI metrics in ASD children/adolescents versus controls, including: fractional anisotropy (FA), mean, axial, and radial diffusivity.


Significant age × group interaction effects were found for all DTI metrics (mean diffusivity: F1,28 = 9.5, p = 0.005, radial diffusivity: F1,28 = 7.8, p = 0.009, axial diffusivity: F1,28 = 5.2, p = 0.03, FA: F1,28 = 4.4, p = 0.04). Interaction effects were driven by increases in cingulum bundle diffusivity (mean, radial, and axial diffusivity), and decreased FA, in younger ASD participants within our sample versus controls.


Our results point to immature microstructural organisation of the cingulum bundle in ASD, particularly during the early years of life, with implications for limbic network synchronisation and complex socio-emotional performance.

Original Articles
Copyright © Scandinavian College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2013 

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