Relationship Between Cortical Gyrification, White Matter Connectivity, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition, which is accompanied by differences in gray matter neuroanatomy and white matter connectivity. However, it is unknown whether these differences are linked or reflect independent aetiologies. Using a multimodal neuroimaging approach, we therefore examined 51 male adults with ASD and 48 neurotypical controls to investigate the relationship between gray matter local gyrification (lGI) and white matter diffusivity in associated fiber tracts. First, ASD individuals had a significant increase in gyrification around the left pre- and post-central gyrus. Second, white matter fiber tracts originating and/or terminating in the cluster of increased lGI had a significant increase in axial diffusivity. This increase in diffusivity was predominantly observed in tracts in close proximity to the cortical sheet. Last, we demonstrate that the increase in lGI was significantly correlated with increased diffusivity of short tracts. This relationship was not significantly modulated by a main effect of group (i.e., ASD), which was more closely associated with gray matter gyrification than white matter diffusivity. Our findings suggest that differences in gray matter neuroanatomy and white matter connectivity are closely linked, and may reflect common rather than distinct aetiological pathways.