Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 16–31 | Cite as

The Implications of Brain Connectivity in the Neuropsychology of Autism

  • Jose O. Maximo
  • Elyse J. Cadena
  • Rajesh K. KanaEmail author


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has been associated with atypical brain functioning. Functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) studies examining neural networks in autism have seen an exponential rise over the last decade. Such investigations have led to the characterization of autism as a distributed neural systems disorder. Studies have found widespread cortical underconnectivity, local overconnectivity, and mixed results suggesting disrupted brain connectivity as a potential neural signature of autism. In this review, we summarize the findings of previous fcMRI studies in autism with a detailed examination of their methodology, in order to better understand its potential and to delineate the pitfalls. We also address how a multimodal neuroimaging approach (incorporating different measures of brain connectivity) may help characterize the complex neurobiology of autism at a global level. Finally, we also address the potential of neuroimaging-based markers in assisting neuropsychological assessment of autism. The quest for a neural marker for autism is still ongoing, yet new findings suggest that aberrant brain connectivity may be a promising candidate.


Autism fMRI Functional connectivity Underconnectivity Effective connectivity White matter integrity 



This study was supported by the McNulty-Civitan Scientist award, the UAB department of Psychology faculty funds, and the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences grant (UL1 TR000165). The authors would like to thank Ms. Bahia Lukima for her help with the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11065_2014_9250_MOESM1_ESM.docx (50 kb)
Supplementary table S1 (DOCX 50 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose O. Maximo
    • 1
  • Elyse J. Cadena
    • 1
  • Rajesh K. Kana
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Alabama, BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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