Neural substrates underlying effortful control deficit in autism spectrum disorder: a meta-analysis of fMRI studies

Karthikeyan Krishnamurthy, Melody M.Y. Chan, Yvonne M.Y. Han (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Effortful control comprises attentional control, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility subprocesses. Effortful control is impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, yet its neural underpinnings remain elusive. By conducting a coordinate-based meta-analysis, this study compared the brain activation patterns between autism and typically developing individuals and examined the effect of age on brain activation in each effortful control subprocesses. Meta-analytic results from 22 studies revealed that, individuals with autism showed hypoactivation in the default mode network for tasks tapping inhibitory control functioning (threshold-free cluster enhancement p < 0.001). When these individuals perform tasks tapping attentional control and cognitive flexibility, they exhibited aberrant activation in various brain networks including default mode network, dorsal attention, frontoparietal, visual and somatomotor networks (uncorrected ps < 0.005). Meta-regression analyses revealed that brain regions within the default mode network showed a significant decreasing trend in activation with increasing age (uncorrected p < 0.05). In summary, individuals with autism showed aberrant activation patterns across multiple brain functional networks during all cognitive tasks supporting effortful control, with some regions showing a decrease in activation with increasing age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20603
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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