Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is a genetic mutation associated with disorders of cortical connectivity and social dysfunction. However, little is known about the functional connectivity (FC) of the resting brain in 22q11DS and its relationship with social behavior. A seed-based analysis of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data was used to investigate FC associated with the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), in (26) youth with 22qDS and (51) demographically matched controls. Subsequently, the relationship between PCC connectivity and Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) scores was examined in 22q11DS participants. Relative to 22q11DS participants, controls showed significantly stronger FC between the PCC and other default mode network (DMN) nodes, including the precuneus, precentral gyrus and left frontal pole. 22q11DS patients did not show age-associated FC changes observed in typically developing controls. Increased connectivity between PCC, medial prefrontal regions and the anterior cingulate cortex, was associated with lower SRS scores (i.e. improved social competence) in 22q11DS. DMN integrity may play a key role in social information processing. We observed disrupted DMN connectivity in 22q11DS, paralleling reports from idiopathic autism and schizophrenia. Increased strength of long-range DMN connectivity was associated with improved social functioning in 22q11DS. These findings support a 'developmental-disconnection' hypothesis of symptom development in this disorder.
School of Medicine