Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1483–1490 | Cite as

Brief Report: CANTAB Performance and Brain Structure in Pediatric Patients with Asperger Syndrome

  • Liane Kaufmann
  • Sibylle Zotter
  • Silvia Pixner
  • Marc Starke
  • Edda Haberlandt
  • Maria Steinmayr-Gensluckner
  • Karl Egger
  • Michael Schocke
  • Elisabeth M. Weiss
  • Josef Marksteiner
Brief Report

Abstract

By merging neuropsychological (CANTAB/Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery) and structural brain imaging data (voxel-based-morphometry) the present study sought to identify the neurocognitive correlates of executive functions in individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) compared to healthy controls. Results disclosed subtle group differences regarding response speed on only one CANTAB subtest that is thought to tap fronto-executive network functions (SWM/spatial working memory). Across all participants, SWM performance was significantly associated with two brain regions (precentral gyrus white matter, precuneus grey matter), thus suggesting a close link between fronto-executive functions (SWM) and circumscribed fronto-parietal brain structures. Finally, symptom severity (ADOS total score) was best predicted by response speed on a set-shifting task (IES) thought to tap fronto-striatal functions (corrected R2 56 %).

Keywords

Asperger syndrome Structural brain imaging Neurocognition CANTAB Spatial working memory Executive functions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all participants for their efforts and time dedicated to the study. The work of L. Kaufmann, S. Zotter and M. Starke was supported by the Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank (ÖNB; grant numbers 11.770 and 13.454).

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, text revision (DSM-IV-TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bölte, S., Rühl, D., Schmötzer, G., & Poustka, F. (2006). Diagnostisches Interview für Autismus—Revidiert (ADI-R). Deutsche Fassung des Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  3. Cambridge Cognition (2004, 2011) (Ed). CANTAB: Cambridge neuropsychological test automated battery. Cambridge: Cambridge Cognition Ltd.Google Scholar
  4. Cheng, Y., Chou, K.-H., Chen, I.-Y., Fan, Y.-T., Decety, J., & Lin, C.-P. (2010). Atypical development of white matter structure in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Neuroimage, 50, 873–882.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dapretto, M., Davies, M. S., Pfeifer, J. H., Scott, A. A., Sigman, M., Bookheimer, S. Y., et al. (2006). Understanding emotions in others: mirror neuron dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorders. Nature Neuroscience, 9, 28–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ferguson, C. J. (2009). An effect size primer: A guide for clinicians and researchers. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40(5), 532–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Frith, U., & Happé, F. (1994). Autism: beyond ‘theory of mind’. Cognition, 50, 115–132.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Geschwind, D. H., & Levitt, P. (2007). Autism spectrum disorders: Developmental disconnection syndromes. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 17, 103–111.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Geurts, H. M., Corbett, B., & Solomon, M. (2009). The paradox of cognitive flexibility in autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(2), 74–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goldberg, M. C., Mostofsky, S. H., Cutting, L. E., Mahone, E. M., Astor, B. C., Denckla, M. B., et al. (2005). Subtle executive impairment in children with autism and children with ADHD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, 279–293.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Happé, F., Ronald, A., & Plomin, R. (2006). Time to give up on a single explanation for autism. Nature Neuroscience, 9, 1218–1220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hill, E. (2004). Executive dysfunction in autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 26–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson, M. H. (2003). Development of human brain functions. Biological Psychiatry, 54, 1312–1316.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kenworthy, L. E., Black, D. O., Wallace, G. L., Ahluvalia, T., Wagner, A. E., & Sirian, L. M. (2005). Disorganization: The forgotten executive dysfunction in high-functioning autism (HFA) spectrum disorders. Developmental Neuropsychology, 28(3), 809–827.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McAlonan, G. M., Cheung, C., Cheung, V., Wong, N., Suckling, J., & Chua, S. E. (2009). Differential effects on white-matter systems in high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Psychological Medicine, 39, 1885–1893.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McAlonan, G. M., Suckling, J., Wong, N., Cheung, V., Lienenkaemper, N., Cheung, C., et al. (2008). Distinct patterns of grey matter abnormality in high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology Psychiatry, 49, 1287–1295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Owen, A. M., Roberts, A. C., Polkey, C. E., Sahakian, B. J., & Robbins, T. W. (1991). Extra-dimensional versus intra-dimensional set shifting performance following frontal lobe excisions, temporal lobe excisions or amygdalo-hippocampectomy in man. Neuropsychologia, 29, 993–1006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ozonoff, S., Cook, I., Coon, H., Dawson, G., Joseph, R. M., Klin, A., et al. (2004). Performance on Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery subtests sensitive to frontal lobe function in people with autistic disorder: Evidence from the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism Network. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 139–150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ozonoff, S., South, M., & Miller, J. N. (2000). DSM-IV-defined Asperger syndrome: Cognitive, behavioral, and early history differentiation from high-functioning autism. Autism, 4, 29–46.Google Scholar
  21. Rühl, D., Bölte, S., Feineis-Matthews, S., & Poustka, F. (2004). Diagnostische Beobachtungsskala für autistische Störungen (ADOS). Deutsche Fassung der Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  22. Semrud-Clikeman, M., Walkowiak, J., Wilkinson, A., & Butcher, B. (2010). Executive functioning in children with Asperger syndrome, ADHD-combined type, ADHD-predominantly inattentive type, and controls. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 1017–1027.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Steele, S. D., Minshew, N. J., Luna, B., & Sweeney, J. A. (2007). Spatial working memory deficits in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 605–612.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tewes, U. (1994) (2. korrigierte Auflage). Hamburg-Wechsler-Intelligenztest für Erwachsene—Revision. Göttingen, Bern: Hans Huber (in German).Google Scholar
  25. Tewes, U., Rossmann, P., & Schallberger, U. (1999). Hamburg-Wechsler-Intelligenztest für Kinder III (HAWIK-III). Göttingen, Bern: Hans Huber (in German).Google Scholar
  26. Witwer, A. N., & Lecavalier, L. (2008). Examining the validity of autism spectrum disorder subtypes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(9), 1611–1624.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liane Kaufmann
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Sibylle Zotter
    • 2
  • Silvia Pixner
    • 1
  • Marc Starke
    • 2
  • Edda Haberlandt
    • 2
  • Maria Steinmayr-Gensluckner
    • 3
  • Karl Egger
    • 4
    • 6
  • Michael Schocke
    • 4
  • Elisabeth M. Weiss
    • 3
    • 5
  • Josef Marksteiner
    • 3
    • 7
  1. 1.Institute of Applied PsychologyUniversity for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and TechnologyHall in TyrolAustria
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics IVInnsbruck Medical UniversityInnsbruckAustria
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryInnsbruck Medical UniversityInnsbruckAustria
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyInnsbruck Medical UniversityInnsbruckAustria
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GrazGrazAustria
  6. 6.Department of NeuroradiologyMedical University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyGeneral HospitalHall in TyrolAustria

Personalised recommendations