Increased functional activity, bottom-up and intrinsic effective connectivity in autism

R. Randeniya, I. Vilares, J. B. Mattingley, M. I. Garrido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sensory perceptual alterations such as sensory sensitivities in autism have been proposed to be caused by differences in sensory observation (Likelihood) or in forming models of the environment (Prior), which result in an increase in bottom-up information flow relative to top-down control. To investigate this conjecture, we had autistic individuals (AS) and neurotypicals (NT) perform a decision-under-uncertainty paradigm while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). There were no group differences in task performance and in Prior and Likelihood representations in brain activity. However, there were significant group differences in overall task activity, with the AS group showing significantly greater activation in the bilateral precuneus, mid-occipital gyrus, cuneus, superior frontal gyrus (SFG) and left putamen relative to the NT group. Further, when pooling the data across both groups, we found that those with higher AQ scores showed greater activity in the left cuneus and precuneus. Effective connectivity analysis using dynamic causal modelling (DCM) revealed that group differences in BOLD signals were underpinned by increased activity within sensory regions and a net increase in bottom-up connectivity from the occipital region to the precuneus and the left SFG. These findings support the hypothesis of increased bottom-up information flow in autism during sensory learning tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103293
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Radhika Tanksale for conducting ADOS assessments and for valuable advice on the project. All participants for their valuable time. The University of Queensland Research Training Programme for funding to RR. The University of Queensland Fellowship (2016000071) to MIG. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function (ARC Centre Grant CE140100007) for funding to JBM and MIG.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • ASD
  • Autistic traits
  • Bayesian models
  • Connectivity
  • DCM
  • Likelihood
  • Prior
  • Sensory perceptual
  • Uncertainty
  • fMRI

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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