A systematic review and meta-analysis of the fMRI investigation of autism spectrum disorders

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Feb;36(2):901-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.10.008. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the investigation of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We carried out a systematic review and ALE meta-analysis of fMRI studies of ASD. A disturbance to the function of social brain regions is among the most well replicated finding. Differences in social brain activation may relate to a lack of preference for social stimuli as opposed to a primary dysfunction of these regions. Increasing evidence points towards a lack of effective integration of distributed functional brain regions and disruptions in the subtle modulation of brain function in relation to changing task demands in ASD. Limitations of the literature to date include the use of small sample sizes and the restriction of investigation to primarily high functioning males with autism.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood


  • Oxygen