Comparing fNIRS-Based Cortical Activation Patterns Between Children with and without Autism, during Bilateral Coordination Tasks

Friday, May 12, 2017: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
S. Trost1, M. Culotta1, M. Hoffman1 and A. N. Bhat2, (1)Physical Therapy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, (2)University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Background: Impairments in motor coordination are often reported in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For example, children with ASD have difficulties with upper-limb, bilateral, and/or visuo-motor coordination using various standardized measures (Bhat, Landa, & Galloway, 2011; Jansiewicz et al., 2006). In the current study, we implemented a novel neuroimaging tool called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study the sensori-motor patterns of children with and without ASD during a drumming task.

Objectives: We compared fNIRS-based cortication activation in frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices during drumming between children with and without ASD as well as healthy adults.

Methods:  12 children with and without ASD between 6 and 12 years of age and 12 healthy adults were seated with a tubano drum. The task involved drumming in 3 ways (Srinivasan et al., 2015): a) Unilateral: the child hit the drum with one hand only, b) Alternating: the child hit the drum with both hands alternately, and c) Complex: the child hit the drum using a complex quarter-eighth pattern (1:2). 24 trials were collected, 8 per condition using a randomized block design. The oxy hemoglobin response of the fNIRS signal was further analyzed to study differences in activation patterns between tasks, between hemispheres, and between the regions of interest (primary motor, primary somatosensory, auditory).

Results: Our preliminary data suggest that complex drumming led to highest level of cortical activation compared to alternating or unilateral patterns. We also found hemispheric differences depending on the nature of the task. The hemispheric differences were primarily seen in the sensori-motor regions.

Conclusions: We noticed variations in cortical activation patterns based on tasks, hemispheres, and regions. We believe these findings could be used to explain the cortical abnormalities contributing to the motor issues observed in children with ASD. In addition, fNIRS-based activation may be a neurobiomarker to assess treatment-related changes following motor interventions.