TRAIN Talk - Decoding autism with cross-species fMRI
Seminar organized by the interdepartmental strategic project TRAIN
- Speaker: Alessandro Gozzi, PhD
Senior Scientist, Group Leader Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive System
Decoding autism with cross-species fMRI
Atypical functional connectivity as measured with resting state fMRI (rsfMRI) is a hallmark of autism. However, fundamental questions as to the origin and significance of functional connectopathy in autism remain open. Why is functional connectivity so heterogeneous across patient cohorts, and what are the implications of this heterogeneity? And can we back-translate specific rsfMRI dysconnectivity signatures into physiologically interpretable events?
To address these questions, my laboratory has developed methods to map rsfMRI connectivity in the mouse, a physiologically accessible species where autism-relevant etiologies can be modelled with great specificity, minimizing environmental confounds. In my lecture I will summarize some key results from this recent line of inquiry. I will highlight substantial correspondences in the organization of mouse and human rsfMRI networks, supporting the translational relevance of this approach. I will next show how this approach can help uncover the basis and significance of connectional heterogeneity in autism, reconciling conflicting findings in clinical populations. Finally, I will illustrate how autism-relevant synaptopathy can be mechanistically linked to clinically-relevant signatures of network dysfunction, defining a unifying multi-scale model of autism pathology. These examples outline a novel research platform that is poised to significantly advance our understanding of functional connectopathy in autism.