News The latest developments in autism research.
Profiles Portraits of scientists who are making a mark on autism research.
Toolbox Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.
Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.
Opinion Conversations on the science of autism research.
Viewpoint Expert opinions on trends and controversies in autism research.
Columnists Dispatches from experts on various facets of autism.
Crosstalk Debates and conversations about timely topics in autism.
Reviews Exploring the intersection of autism and the arts.
Q&A Conversations with experts about noteworthy topics in autism.
Deep Dive In-depth analysis of important topics in autism.
Special Reports Curated collections of articles on special topics in autism.
Webinars Presentations by leading experts on their latest research.

Cognition and behavior: Connectivity deficits link autism, TSC

by  /  7 August 2012

Brain maps: Differences in brain connectivity distinguish people who have tuberous sclerosis together with autism (top) from those who have tuberous sclerosis alone (above).

Abnormalities in the connections between language-related brain regions are similar in people with autism and those with tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disorder characterized by benign tumors throughout the brain and body, according to a paper published 1 June in Cerebral Cortex1.

In the new study, researchers used diffusion tensor imaging, which maps connections between brain regions, to scan the brains of 12 individuals who have both tuberous sclerosis and autism, 20 who have tuberous sclerosis alone, and 42 controls. In particular, they looked at the arcuate fasciculus (AF) — one component of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), a brain tract made up of bundles of the connecting projections of neurons.

The SLF connects Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, two brain regions associated with language ability. Studies have found potentially weaker connections across the SLF in the brains of people with autism than in those of controls.

Individuals who have both tuberous sclerosis and autism have more severe abnormalities in the AF than those who have tuberous sclerosis alone or controls, the study found.

Specifically, individuals with both disorders may show faster diffusion of water along the AF, a measure called mean diffusivity. Water molecules also flow along this tract with less directionality, or fractional anisotropy. Both measures suggest less connectivity between Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas than would be found in controls.     


1: Lewis W.W. et al. Cereb. Cortex Epub ahead of print (2012) PubMed

2: Curatolo P. et al. Eur. J. Paediatr. Neurol. 8, 327-332 (2004) PubMed


Log in to your Spectrum Wiki account

Email Address:



Request your Spectrum Wiki account

Spectrum Wiki is a community of researchers affiliated with an academic or research institutions. To be considered for participation, please fill out this form and a member of our team will respond to your request.


Email Address:

Title and Lab:

Area of Expertise: