Partially impaired functional connectivity states between right anterior insula and default mode network in autism spectrum disorder.
Time-invariant resting-state functional connectivity studies have illuminated the crucial role of the right anterior insula (rAI) in prominent social impairments of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, a recent dynamic connectivity study demonstrated that rather than being stationary, functional connectivity patterns of the rAI vary significantly across time. The present study aimed to explore the differences in functional connectivity in dynamic states of the rAI between individuals with ASD and typically developing controls (TD). Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from a publicly available database were analyzed in 209 individuals with ASD and 298 demographically matched controls. A k-means clustering algorithm was utilized to obtain five dynamic states of functional connectivity of the rAI. The temporal properties, frequency properties, and meta-analytic decoding were first identified in TD group to obtain the characteristics of each rAI dynamic state. Multivariate analysis of variance was then performed to compare the functional connectivity patterns of the rAI between ASD and TD groups in obtained states. Significantly impaired connectivity was observed in ASD in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex, which are two critical hubs of the default mode network (DMN). States in which ASD showed decreased connectivity between the rAI and these regions were those more relevant to socio-cognitive processing. From a dynamic perspective, these findings demonstrate partially impaired resting-state functional connectivity patterns between the rAI and DMN across states in ASD, and provide novel insights into the neural mechanisms underlying social impairments in individuals with ASD.