Functional connectivity of brain regions for self- and other-evaluation in children, adolescents and adults with autism

Catherine A. Burrows, Angela R. Laird, Lucina Q. Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Developing strong ties between oneself and others lays the foundation for developing social competence. Neuroimaging studies have consistently identified specific cortical midline regions activated during evaluative judgments about the self and others. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) process self-relevant information differently from their peers, both behaviorally and at the neural level. We compared resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of regions involved in self-referential (e.g. medial prefrontal cortex; mPFC) and other-referential (e.g. posterior cingulate cortex; PCC) processing between neurotypical individuals and individuals with ASD in three age cohorts using regions of interest (ROIs) identified through an activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis. Typically developing children demonstrated greater connectivity within the midline self- and other-referential networks compared with age-matched children with ASD. No group differences in rsFC of mPFC or PCC emerged between typically developing adolescents and adolescents with ASD. Neurotypical adults exhibited stronger rsFC of the PCC with orbitofrontal cortex compared with adults with ASD. Developmental differences in functional connectivity between areas underlying self- and other-referential thought may explain altered developmental trajectories in the understanding of self and others in individuals with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-580
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (K01MH092288 and R01MH107549), a Slifka/Ritvo Innovation in Autism Research Award from the International Society for Autism Research, and a NARSAD Young Investigator Award to LQU. We gratefully acknowledge the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE; for providing the publicly available data used in the current work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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