The neural correlates of emotion dysregulation in children with autism spectrum disorder

Randi Bennett, Fordham University


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is commonly described as a range of neuro-developmental disorders characterized by deficits in social communication and interactions, as well as restricted, repetitive behaviors apparent before age 3-years (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Children who are diagnosed with an ASD are also reported to have less positive and more negative affect (i.e. emotion dysregulation), and more difficulty controlling behavior than typically developing children (Garon et al., 2009). These emotion processing and regulatory concerns cut across the diagnostic subcategories and heterogeneous presentations of ASD and are seen to develop alongside, and sometimes before, the typically recognized criteria of ASD (Dawson, 2008). Research on the development and manifestations of these emotional deficits in conjunction with their neural mechanisms is especially relevant to understanding the full breadth of neural correlates of ASD. Using resting-state fMRI in conjunction with a parent-reported measure of emotion dysregulation, this study explored the neural correlates of emotion dysregulation in a group of children with ASD. Findings revealed hyperconnectivity between amygdala and sub-cortical structures such as putamen, thalamus, and cerebellum in ASD compared with TD controls. In addition, the strength of amygdala intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) with a medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) region, superior frontal gyrus (SFG), was significantly related to the severity of emotion dysregulation within the ASD group. These findings elucidate the possibility that an amygdala-mPFC brain circuit is involved in emotion dysregulation in ASD, as well as the fact that emotion dysregulation may have a distinct neural signature in individuals with ASD.

Subject Area

Neurosciences|Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Bennett, Randi, "The neural correlates of emotion dysregulation in children with autism spectrum disorder" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI1569127.