Transient states of network connectivity are atypical in autism: A dynamic functional connectivity study

Lisa E. Mash, Annika C. Linke, Lindsay A. Olson, Inna Fishman, Thomas T. Liu, Ralph Axel Müller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


There is ample evidence of atypical functional connectivity (FC) in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). However, transient relationships between neural networks cannot be captured by conventional static FC analyses. Dynamic FC (dFC) approaches have been used to identify repeating, transient connectivity patterns (“states”), revealing spatiotemporal network properties not observable in static FC. Recent studies have found atypical dFC in ASDs, but questions remain about the nature of group differences in transient connectivity, and the degree to which states persist or change over time. This study aimed to: (a) describe and relate static and dynamic FC in typical development and ASDs, (b) describe group differences in transient states and compare them with static FC patterns, and (c) examine temporal stability and flexibility between identified states. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected from 62 ASD and 57 typically developing (TD) children and adolescents. Whole-brain, data-driven regions of interest were derived from group independent component analysis. Sliding window analysis and k-means clustering were used to explore dFC and identify transient states. Across all regions, static overconnnectivity and increased variability over time in ASDs predominated. Furthermore, significant patterns of group differences emerged in two transient states that were not observed in the static FC matrix, with group differences in one state primarily involving sensory and motor networks, and in the other involving higher-order cognition networks. Default mode network segregation was significantly reduced in ASDs in both states. Results highlight that dynamic approaches may reveal more nuanced transient patterns of atypical FC in ASDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2377-2389
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • default mode network
  • dynamic functional connectivity
  • functional MRI
  • resting state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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