28th International Conference on Psychiatry & Mental Health
University of Southern California
Title: Examining the Relationship between Verbal Fluency and Brain Surface Area in Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Biography: Christina Chen
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a mental health condition associated with communication deficits. Previous studies have examined the relationship between left superior temporal gyrus and receptive language in children with ASD . However, little is known about the neural substrates behind verbal fluency in boys with ASD. Our goal is to examine the brain regions involved in verbal fluency in boys with ASD, relative to typically developing (TD) boys. Methods: Five research institutions were involved in data collection: USC, UCLA, Seattle Children’s Institute, Harvard, and Yale. The sample included 52 boys with ASD and 42 TD boys, ages 7 to 17. Diagnosis was based on the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-II . Verbal fluency was defined as one’s ability to formulate sentences, evaluated by the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Scale . Freesurfer was used to determine brain surface area for 146 regions extracted from the Destrieux atlas . Regression analyses were performed in each subject group to establish the brain areas that predict verbal fluency.The left straight gyrus (p=.003) and transverse temporal sulcus (p=.006) were significantly related to formulated sentence scores in boys with ASD. The right temporal plane of superior temporal gyrus (p=.002) and posterior segment of lateral sulcus (p<.001) as well as the left inferior occipital gyrus and sulcus (p=.002) and transverse temporal sulcus (p=.009) were significantly associated with formulated sentence scores in TD boys. Conclusion: Boys with ASD relied on the left hemisphere, while TD boys relied on both the right and left hemispheres for verbal fluency, suggesting that verbal language laterality may depend on diagnosis. Furthermore, TD boys appeared to depend more on visual and auditory brain regions to orally express themselves, compared to boys with ASD.