Patterns of connectome variability in autism across five functional activation tasks: findings from the LEAP project.


BACKGROUND: Autism spectrum disorder (autism) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition with pronounced behavioral, cognitive, and neural heterogeneities across individuals. Here, our goal was to characterize heterogeneity in autism by identifying patterns of neural diversity as reflected in BOLD fMRI in the way individuals with autism engage with a varied array of cognitive tasks. METHODS: All analyses were based on the EU-AIMS/AIMS-2-TRIALS multisite Longitudinal European Autism Project (LEAP) with participants with autism (n = 282) and typically developing (TD) controls (n = 221) between 6 and 30 years of age. We employed a novel task potency approach which combines the unique aspects of both resting state fMRI and task-fMRI to quantify task-induced variations in the functional connectome. Normative modelling was used to map atypicality of features on an individual basis with respect to their distribution in neurotypical control participants. We applied robust out-of-sample canonical correlation analysis (CCA) to relate connectome data to behavioral data. RESULTS: Deviation from the normative ranges of global functional connectivity was greater for individuals with autism compared to TD in each fMRI task paradigm (all tasks p