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Decreased Left Caudate Volume Is Associated with Increased Severity of Autistic-Like Symptoms in a Cohort of ADHD Patients and Their Unaffected Siblings.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms frequently occur in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While there is evidence that both ADHD and ASD have differential structural brain correlates, knowledge of the structural brain profile of individuals with ADHD with raised ASD symptoms is limited. The presence of ASD-like symptoms was measured by the Children's Social Behavior Questionnaire (CSBQ) in a sample of typically developing controls (n = 154), participants with ADHD (n = 239), and their unaffected siblings (n = 144) between the ages of 8 and 29. Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) correlates of ASD ratings were analysed by studying the relationship between ASD ratings and grey matter volumes using mixed effects models which controlled for ADHD symptom count and total brain volume. ASD ratings were significantly elevated in participants with ADHD relative to controls and unaffected siblings. For the entire group (participants with ADHD, unaffected siblings and TD controls), mixed effect models revealed that the left caudate nucleus volume was negatively correlated with ASD ratings (t = 2.83; P = 0.005). The current findings are consistent with the role of the caudate nucleus in executive function, including the selection of goals based on the evaluation of action outcomes and the use of social reward to update reward representations. There is a specific volumetric profile associated with subclinical ASD-like symptoms in participants with ADHD, unaffected siblings and controls with the caudate nucleus and globus pallidus being of critical importance in predicting the level of ASD-like symptoms in all three groups.
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