Tuesday, Jul 25: 9:30 AM - 10:15 AM
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a formidable challenge for psychiatry and neuroscience because of the high prevalence, lifelong nature, complexity, and substantial heterogeneity. A major goal of neuroimaging studies of ASD is to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of this disorder by investigating how brain anatomy, function and connectivity are altered, and how they are associated with the core social-communication deficits and repetitive behaviors that are central to the disorder. However, ongoing debate exists within those literatures, and neuroimaging findings in ASD are often contradictory. In this talk, I review evidence from our neuroimaging studies of ASD over the past decade, and propose the perspective that the "social brain" are the most affected regions in the autistic brain at different levels and modalities. By focusing on the social brain circuitry, we further develop a personalized amygdala-optimized functional connectivity (AOFC)-guided continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) strategy as a non-invasive therapy for addressing social deficits in young children with ASD, and assessed its efficacy using a Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Our findings demonstrate that social-communication deficits can be significantly improved by this intervention strategy. Furthermore, analysis of neuroimaging data revealed changes in morphology, spontaneous neural activity, and functional connectivity of amygdala following treatment. Our research offers insights for advancing the application of neuroimaging to support translational medicine and clinical practice in ASD.