Resting-State Functional Connectivity Changes Between Dentate Nucleus and Cortical Social Brain Regions in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Giusy Olivito, Silvia Clausi, Fiorenzo Laghi, Anna Maria Tedesco, Roberto Baiocco, Chiara Mastropasqua, Marco Molinari, Mara Cercignani, Marco Bozzali, Maria Leggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are known to be characterized by restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests and by impairments in social communication and interactions mainly including “theory of mind” (ToM) processes. The cerebellum has emerged as one of the brain regions affected by ASDs. As the cerebellum is known to influence cerebral cortex activity via cerebello-thalamo-cortical (CTC) circuits, it has been proposed that cerebello-cortical “disconnection” could in part underlie autistic symptoms. We used resting-state (RS) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the potential RS connectivity changes between the cerebellar dentate nucleus (DN) and the CTC circuit targets, that may contribute to ASD pathophysiology. When comparing ASD patients to controls, we found decreased connectivity between the left DN and cerebral regions known to be components of the ToM network and the default mode network, implicated in specific aspects of mentalizing, social cognition processing, and higher order emotional processes. Further, a pattern of overconnectivity was also detected between the left DN and the supramodal cerebellar lobules associated with the default mode network. The presented RS-fMRI data provide evidence that functional connectivity (FC) between the dentate nucleus and the cerebral cortex is altered in ASD patients. This suggests that the dysfunction reported within the cerebral cortical network, typically related to social features of ASDs, may be at least partially related to an impaired interaction between cerebellum and key cortical social brain regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 1 2016


  • Cerebellum
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Default mode network
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Resting-State Functional Connectivity Changes Between Dentate Nucleus and Cortical Social Brain Regions in Autism Spectrum Disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this