Autism is a common developmental condition with a wide, variable range of co-occurring neuropsychiatric symptoms. Contrasting with most extant studies, we explored whole-brain functional organization at multiple levels simultaneously in a large subject group reflecting autism's clinical diversity, and present the first network-based analysis of transient brain states, or dynamic connectivity, in autism. Disruption to inter-network and inter-system connectivity, rather than within individual networks, predominated. We identified coupling disruption in the anterior-posterior default mode axis, and among specific control networks specialized for task start cues and the maintenance of domain-independent task positive status, specifically between the right fronto-parietal and cingulo-opercular networks and default mode network subsystems. These appear to propagate downstream in autism, with significantly dampened subject oscillations between brain states, and dynamic connectivity configuration differences. Our account proposes specific motifs that may provide candidates for neuroimaging biomarkers within heterogeneous clinical populations in this diverse condition.
Keywords: Autism; Control networks; Default-mode; Dynamic connectivity; Functional MRI; Task-positive.