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Influence of Primary Auditory Cortex in the Characterization of Autism Spectrum in Young Adults using Brain Connectivity Parameters and Deep Belief Networks: An fMRI Study

[ Vol. 16 , Issue. 9 ]


Vidhusha Srinivasan*, N. Udayakumar and Kavitha Anandan   Pages 1059 - 1073 ( 15 )


Background: The spectrum of autism encompasses High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Low Functioning Autism (LFA). Brain mapping studies have revealed that autism individuals have overlaps in brain behavioural characteristics. Generally, high functioning individuals are known to exhibit higher intelligence and better language processing abilities. However, specific mechanisms associated with their functional capabilities are still under research.

Objective: This work addresses the overlapping phenomenon present in autism spectrum through functional connectivity patterns along with brain connectivity parameters and distinguishes the classes using deep belief networks.

Methods: The task-based functional Magnetic Resonance Images (fMRI) of both high and low functioning autistic groups were acquired from ABIDE database, for 58 low functioning against 43 high functioning individuals while they were involved in a defined language processing task. The language processing regions of the brain, along with Default Mode Network (DMN) have been considered for the analysis. The functional connectivity maps have been plotted through graph theory procedures. Brain connectivity parameters such as Granger Causality (GC) and Phase Slope Index (PSI) have been calculated for the individual groups. These parameters have been fed to Deep Belief Networks (DBN) to classify the subjects under consideration as either LFA or HFA.

Results: Results showed increased functional connectivity in high functioning subjects. It was found that the additional interaction of the Primary Auditory Cortex lying in the temporal lobe, with other regions of interest complimented their enhanced connectivity. Results were validated using DBN measuring the classification accuracy of 85.85% for high functioning and 81.71% for the low functioning group.

Conclusion: Since it is known that autism involves enhanced, but imbalanced components of intelligence, the reason behind the supremacy of high functioning group in language processing and region responsible for enhanced connectivity has been recognized. Therefore, this work that suggests the effect of Primary Auditory Cortex in characterizing the dominance of language processing in high functioning young adults seems to be highly significant in discriminating different groups in autism spectrum.


Autism, fMRI, functional connectivity, primary auditory cortex, language processing, deep belief networks.


Department of Information Technology, Centre for Healthcare Technologies, Sri Sirasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering, Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR), Chennai, Department of Pediatrics, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Sri Ramachandra Medical University, Chennai, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Centre for Healthcare Technologies, Sri Sirasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering, Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR), Chennai

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