Visuospatial processing and the function of prefrontal-parietal networks in autism spectrum disorders: A functional MRI study

Timothy J. Silk, Nicole Rinehart, John L. Bradshaw, Bruce Tonge, Gary Egan, Michael W. O'Boyle, Ross Cunnington

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113 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Individuals with autism spectrum disorders typically have normal visuospatial abilities but impaired executive functioning, particularly in abilities related to working memory and attention. The aim of this study was to elucidate the functioning of frontoparietal networks underlying spatial working memory processes during mental rotation in persons with autism spectrum disorders. Method: Seven adolescent males with normal IQ with an autism spectrum disorder and nine age- and IQ-matched male comparison subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scans while performing a mental rotation task. Results: The autism spectrum disorders group showed less activation in lateral and medial premotor cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, and caudate nucleus. Conclusions: The finding of less activation in prefrontal regions but not in parietal regions supports a model of dysfunction of frontostriatal networks in autism spectrum disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1440-1443
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

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