The primary aims of the proposed project are to (1) Characterize structural and functional connectivity of the speech and language networks in minimally verbal children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD);and (2) Investigate changes in this connectivity resulting from intervention, specifically the Auditory Motor Mapping Training (AMMT) of Schlaug and colleagues (ACE Project 1). Two neuroimaging studies involving children with ASD and neurologically normal control subjects will be performed. In Study 1, we will perform high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brains of each participant from four groups of adolescents (ages 14-17): (1) 25 minimally verbal ASD adolescent, (2) 25 verbal but language impaired ASD adolescents, (3) 25 normal language ASD adolescents, and (4) 25 age- and gender-matched neurologically normal control adolescents. We will quantify structural anatomical connectivity based on Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) data and functional connectivity based on resting state functional connectivity MRI, and we will use these measures to test hypotheses concerning connectivity deficits in the speech networks of adolescents with ASD. Particular attention will be paid to the pathway between left supplementary motor area (SMA) and left ventral premotor cortex (vPMC), which is hypothesized to play a key role in initiation of verbal output and which has been shown to be impaired in ASD. Furthermore, language-related hypotheses,including predictions regarding Inter-hemispheric connectivity of language areas BA 45 and BA 9 (in keeping with the aims of Project IV of this ACE application) will be investigated. Exploratory analyses of brain connectivity in ASD will also be performed on these data. In Study 2, we will investigate the effects of AMMT therapy on brain connectivity in ASD by performing the same scans used in Study 1 on 30 minimally verbal children with ASD (ages 6-10) before and after AMMT training performed as part of Project 1 of this ACE application. A central hypothesis tested in Study 2 is that AMMT will increase the functional connectivity and structual integrity of the white matter between left SMA and vPMC and that these variables, measured at the baseline scan, will also predict the response to AMMT training.

Public Health Relevance

A more complete understanding of how impaired brain connectivity is responsible for behavioral aspects of autism spectrum disorder will aid in the development and evaluation of targeted therapies based on sub types of the disorder that can be identified by brain imaging.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Specialized Center (P50)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Boston University
United States
Zip Code
Chenausky, Karen; Norton, Andrea; Tager-Flusberg, Helen et al. (2018) Behavioral predictors of improved speech output in minimally verbal children with autism. Autism Res 11:1356-1365
Kleckner, Ian R; Jones, Rebecca M; Wilder-Smith, Oliver et al. (2018) Simple, Transparent, and Flexible Automated Quality Assessment Procedures for Ambulatory Electrodermal Activity Data. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 65:1460-1467
Chenausky, Karen V; Schlaug, Gottfried (2018) From intuition to intervention: developing an intonation-based treatment for autism. Ann N Y Acad Sci :
Goodwin, Matthew S; Özdenizci, Ozan; Cumpanasoiu, Catalina et al. (2018) Predicting Imminent Aggression Onset in Minimally-Verbal Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Preceding Physiological Signals. Int Conf Pervasive Comput Technol Healthc 2018:201-207
Schwartz, Sophie; Shinn-Cunningham, Barbara; Tager-Flusberg, Helen (2018) Meta-analysis and systematic review of the literature characterizing auditory mismatch negativity in individuals with autism. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 87:106-117
Karahano?lu, Fikret I??k; Baran, Bengi; Nguyen, Quynh Trang Huong et al. (2018) Diffusion-weighted imaging evidence of altered white matter development from late childhood to early adulthood in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Neuroimage Clin 19:840-847
Großekathöfer, Ulf; Manyakov, Nikolay V; Mihajlovi?, Vojkan et al. (2017) Automated Detection of Stereotypical Motor Movements in Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Recurrence Quantification Analysis. Front Neuroinform 11:9
Chenausky, Karen V; Norton, Andrea C; Schlaug, Gottfried (2017) Auditory-Motor Mapping Training in a More Verbal Child with Autism. Front Hum Neurosci 11:426
Palumbo, Richard V; Marraccini, Marisa E; Weyandt, Lisa L et al. (2017) Interpersonal Autonomic Physiology: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Pers Soc Psychol Rev 21:99-141
Fedorenko, Evelina; Morgan, Angela; Murray, Elizabeth et al. (2016) A highly penetrant form of childhood apraxia of speech due to deletion of 16p11.2. Eur J Hum Genet 24:302-6

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications