Date of Award
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts behavior control and social skills. Currently, ASD diagnoses are largely qualitative; thus, having more quantitative means of identification would aid in earlier diagnosis of ASD. However, more research is needed to pinpoint observable neurobiological markers of ASD. Our study focused on the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) due to past evidence suggesting its involvement in ASD symptomatology. The PCC has been linked to behavioral control and executive functioning. Moreover, previous studies support executive functioning’s responsibility for the repetitive and restricted behaviors (RRB) in ASD.
Method: Our study sought to contribute through analysis and comparison of the PCC’s functional connectivity relationships with other brain regions through resting-state fMRI brain scans of an ASD-diagnosed experimental group of adolescents and a control group of neurotypical adolescents. The ABIDE consortium was utilized to acquire data from the University of Michigan (145 participants) and data from the New York University (183 participants). The FMRIB Software Library and Analysis of Functional NeuroImages were used to pre-process and statistically analyze the data.
Results: After analysis, the PCC was found to be abnormally connected to the bilateral ACC; specifically, the connections were found to be weaker in the ASD group than the control group.
Conclusion: Our findings of abnormal connectivity between the PCC and the bilateral ACC adds to previous data of abnormal functional connectivity involving the two regions; however, it introduces weak directionality to these previous findings. Overall, our study does contribute to current data about the neurobiological basis behind ASD and supports it as an area of interest for future research.
Gonzalez, Claudia, "The Role of the PCC and ACC in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Functional Connectivity Study" (2023). Honors Theses. 2830.
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