Anterior insular cortex regulation in autism spectrum disorders.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) comprise a heterogeneous set of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by dramatic impairments of interpersonal behavior, communication, and empathy. Recent neuroimaging studies suggested that ASD are disorders characterized by widespread abnormalities involving distributed brain network, though clear evidence of differences in large-scale brain network interactions underlying the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of ASD are still lacking. Consistent findings of anterior insula cortex hypoactivation and dysconnectivity during tasks related to emotional and social processing indicates its dysfunctional role in ASD. In parallel, increasing evidence showed that successful control of anterior insula activity can be attained using real-time fMRI paradigms. More importantly, successful regulation of this region was associated with changes in behavior and brain connectivity in both healthy individuals and psychiatric patients. Building on these results we here propose and discuss the use of real-time fMRI neurofeedback in ASD aiming at improving emotional and social behavior.
Front Behav Neurosci Caria A1, de Falco S2.
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