This proposal aims to elucidate the functional organization of the whole brain in Autism Spectrum Disorders (hereafter referred to as autism), a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect roughly 1 in 110 individuals born today. I will test the overarching hypothesis that functional coupling between different regions of the brain in autism is generally reduced. Moreover, I will explore the prediction that such reduced connectivity is associated with abnormal behavior. While anatomical and functional evidence support reduced brain connectivity in autism, this has never been tested at the whole-brain level. In this application, I propose to acquire resting-state and stimulus-evoked Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) activity across the entire brain in high-functioning adults with autism and matched healthy control participants. A measure of functional connectivity will be derived from the resting-state BOLD activity, by examining the functional coupling across all regions of the brain in a pairwise manner. In each of 4 specific aims, I will test the following hypotheses: (1) that the autistic brain is generally less connected than normal, but that there is anatomical specificity to this reduction, (2) that the functional responsivity of the entire brain can be examined simultaneously in autism using complex naturalistic stimuli, and can be used to reveal which regions function abnormally in autism, (3) that abnormal resting-state functional connectivity is associated with reduced evoked activity in those same regions, and (4) that the functional properties of broadly distributed brain regions contain information that can be used to predict a diagnosis of autism.
Aims 1 &2 will be carried out during the training phase (K99) of the grant, while Aims 3 &4 will be completed during the independent phase (R00). The training component will consist of learning state-of-the-art functional imaging methods at the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, together with statistical techniques for pattern classification. Together, these studies will provide the first comprehensive picture of brain connectivity and brain activity in autism, and set the direction for my future career.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Transition Award (R00)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Gilotty, Lisa
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Indiana University Bloomington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Byrge, Lisa; Kennedy, Daniel P (2018) Identifying and characterizing systematic temporally-lagged BOLD artifacts. Neuroimage 171:376-392
Sasson, Noah J; Faso, Daniel J; Nugent, Jack et al. (2017) Neurotypical Peers are Less Willing to Interact with Those with Autism based on Thin Slice Judgments. Sci Rep 7:40700
Pantelis, Peter C; Kennedy, Daniel P (2017) Autism does not limit strategic thinking in the ""beauty contest"" game. Cognition 160:91-97
Pantelis, Peter C; Kennedy, Daniel P (2017) Deconstructing atypical eye gaze perception in autism spectrum disorder. Sci Rep 7:14990
Kennedy, Daniel P; D'Onofrio, Brian M; Quinn, Patrick D et al. (2017) Genetic Influence on Eye Movements to Complex Scenes at Short Timescales. Curr Biol 27:3554-3560.e3
Pantelis, Peter C; Kennedy, Daniel P (2016) Prior expectations about where other people are likely to direct their attention systematically influence gaze perception. J Vis 16:7
Kennedy, Daniel P; Paul, Lynn K; Adolphs, Ralph (2015) Brain Connectivity in Autism: The Significance of Null Findings. Biol Psychiatry 78:81-2
Bush, Jennifer Choe; Pantelis, Peter Christopher; Morin Duchesne, Xavier et al. (2015) Viewing Complex, Dynamic Scenes ""Through the Eyes"" of Another Person: The Gaze-Replay Paradigm. PLoS One 10:e0134347
Pantelis, Peter C; Byrge, Lisa; Tyszka, J Michael et al. (2015) A specific hypoactivation of right temporo-parietal junction/posterior superior temporal sulcus in response to socially awkward situations in autism. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 10:1348-56
Wang, Shuo; Jiang, Ming; Duchesne, Xavier Morin et al. (2015) Atypical Visual Saliency in Autism Spectrum Disorder Quantified through Model-Based Eye Tracking. Neuron 88:604-16

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