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. 2013 Jun 23;2:844-53.
doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2013.06.009. eCollection 2013.

Abnormal White Matter Microstructure in Children With Sensory Processing Disorders

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Free PMC article

Abnormal White Matter Microstructure in Children With Sensory Processing Disorders

Julia P Owen et al. Neuroimage Clin. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Sensory processing disorders (SPD) affect 5-16% of school-aged children and can cause long-term deficits in intellectual and social development. Current theories of SPD implicate primary sensory cortical areas and higher-order multisensory integration (MSI) cortical regions. We investigate the role of white matter microstructural abnormalities in SPD using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). DTI was acquired in 16 boys, 8-11 years old, with SPD and 24 age-, gender-, handedness- and IQ-matched neurotypical controls. Behavior was characterized using a parent report sensory behavior measure, the Sensory Profile. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD) and radial diffusivity (RD) were calculated. Tract-based spatial statistics were used to detect significant group differences in white matter integrity and to determine if microstructural parameters were significantly correlated with behavioral measures. Significant decreases in FA and increases in MD and RD were found in the SPD cohort compared to controls, primarily involving posterior white matter including the posterior corpus callosum, posterior corona radiata and posterior thalamic radiations. Strong positive correlations were observed between FA of these posterior tracts and auditory, multisensory, and inattention scores (r = 0.51-0.78; p < 0.001) with strong negative correlations between RD and multisensory and inattention scores (r = - 0.61-0.71; p < 0.001). To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate reduced white matter microstructural integrity in children with SPD. We find that the disrupted white matter microstructure predominantly involves posterior cerebral tracts and correlates strongly with atypical unimodal and multisensory integration behavior. These findings suggest abnormal white matter as a biological basis for SPD and may also distinguish SPD from overlapping clinical conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Keywords: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Autism; Brain development; Connectivity; Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); Pediatrics.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Principal component analysis of Sensory Profile scores in SPD subjects and matched controls.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
A–C demonstrates reduced FA in SPD in the posterior body of the corpus callosum and bilateral PTR. D–F demonstrates increased MD in the SPD patients in the lateral callosal fibers of the posterior body and splenium, bilateral PTR, including the optic radiations, right PCR, and right SLF. G–I shows increased RD in the posterior body and splenium, bilateral PTR, including the optic radiations, left ATR, and left forceps minor. The color scheme denotes TDC > SPD in blue and SPD > TDC in red and all images are presented in radiological convention (left hemisphere on right side of image).
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Correlation of FA with auditory sensory score: The left column displays the clusters extracted from the statistical image for the correlation (p < 0.05) and the right column displays the plot of mean FA in each cluster versus the mean-centered auditory score for the TDC (red) and SPD (blue) groups. The correlation coefficient and corresponding p-value are provided for each cluster along with the best-fit linear trend line. Three clusters were used, one in right PTR (A), one in left PTR (B), and one in the posterior body of the corpus callosum (C).
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Correlation of FA and RD with multisensory score: The left column displays the clusters extracted from the statistical image for the correlation (p < 0.05) and the right column displays the plot of mean FA in each cluster versus the mean-centered multisensory score for the TDC (red) and SPD (blue) groups. The correlation coefficient and corresponding p-value are provided for each cluster along with the best-fit linear trend line. Three clusters were used for both FA and RD. For FA, there was a cluster located in the posterior body and splenium of the corpus callosum (A), right PCR/SLF (C) and left SLF (E) and for RD, there was a cluster located in left optic radiation (B), the right PCR (D), and left SLF (F). Each cluster is displayed in red if the multisensory score is positively correlated with the DTI parameter and in blue if it is negatively correlated with the DTI parameter.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
Correlation of FA and RD with inattention score: The left column displays the clusters extracted from the statistical image for the correlation (p < 0.05) and the right column displays the plot of mean FA in each cluster versus the mean-centered inattention score for the TDC (red) and SPD (blue) groups. The correlation coefficient and corresponding p-value are provided for each cluster along with the best-fit linear trend line. The clusters used for FA were located in right PCR (A), the posterior body and splenium of the corpus callosum (C), left anterior corona radiata and ATR (E), and an extensive cluster encompassing left PTR and SLF (G). For RD, three clusters were used in bilateral PTR/PCR (B, F) and the left SLF (D). Each cluster is displayed in red if the inattention score is positively correlated with the DTI parameter and in blue if it is negatively correlated with the DTI parameter.
Fig. 6
Fig. 6
Correlation of FA with tactile and visual sensory scores: The left column displays the clusters extracted from the statistical image for the correlation (p < 0.05) and the right column displays the plot of mean FA in each cluster versus the mean-centered visual and tactile scores for the TDC (red) and SPD (blue) groups. The correlation coefficient and corresponding p-value are provided for each cluster along with the best-fit linear trend line. The three clusters, one in right PTR (top row), one in left PTR (middle row), and one in the posterior body of the corpus callosum (bottom row) are identical to those in Fig. 3.

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