All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Rajesh K Kana

Advisory Committee Members

Sarah O'Kelley

Kristina Visscher

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


This study investigated the patterns of functional connectivity between three intrinsic connectivity networks (default mode, executive, salience) and the cerebellum in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is substantial evidence of cerebellar pathology in ASD, and recent evidence implicates cortico-cerebellar connectivity in the disorder. Three intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) of the cortex have particular relevance to the conceptualization of cognitive processing in ASD: the default mode, executive control, and salience networks. In typically developing (TD) adults, the cerebellum is functionally connected with each of these networks. The contributions of the cerebellum to these three ICNs may differ between ASD and TD individuals - this had not yet been examined. Therefore, the goal of this study was to utilize resting-state data from 42 TD children and 42 children with ASD (ages 7-12) to characterize cortico- cerebellar connectivity. Seed-to-voxel functional connectivity was performed between seed regions of the ICNs and voxels of the cerebellum. There were two main findings: 1) Participants with ASD exhibited significantly increased functional connectivity between the left executive network and lobule VI of the right cerebellum, and 2) among participants with ASD, weaker connectivity between the salience network and lobule VI of the cerebellum was associated with more stereotyped behaviors. The results of this study meaningfully relate to the consistent findings of cerebellar pathology in ASD and altered ICN functional connectivity. Cerebellar lobule VI appears to play an important role in the ASD neural phenotype. This study contributes to the growing literature of cerebellar anatomical, functional, and biochemical alterations in ASD, and it indicates the importance of examining the cerebellum at a network level in this disorder.



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