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  • van Esch, Lotte; Vanmarcke, Steven; Ceulemans, Eva; Van Leeuwen, Karla; Noens, Ilse; 2018. Parenting adolescents with ASD: A multimethod study. Autism Research; 2018; Vol. 11; iss. 7; pp. 1000 - 1010
    LIRIAS1786195
    description
    A number of studies have concluded that parents of children with ASD experience high levels of parenting stress. However, little is known about their parenting behaviors. Especially few studies investigated parenting in adolescence, although this period is associated with additional challenges for both adolescents and their parents. In the present study, a multi-method approach was used, combining data from a self-report questionnaire and observation of mother-child interactions during different semi-structured (e.g., inventing and building a vehicle of the future with construction toys) and structured tasks (e.g., solving marble maze). Linear mixed models (LMM) were used to compare the means of parenting behaviors among mothers of adolescents with (n = 44) and without ASD (n = 38), aged 12 to 16 years old. During the observations, mothers of adolescents with ASD showed more sensitivity and creativity, compared to the general population control group. In addition, mothers in the ASD group reported on the self-report questionnaire to adapt the environment more, for example, by establishing routines. Furthermore, this study investigated the role of maternal characteristics, that is, ASD characteristics and parenting stress. Parenting stress was associated with less self-reported positive parenting. Higher levels of ASD characteristics of the mother were related to more negativity and less sensitivity during the observation, and more self-reported harsh punishment and adapting the environment. This study additionally examined whether the impact of these maternal characteristics was the same across the two groups. Whereas group by parenting stress interaction effects were not significant for any of the observed and self-reported parenting behaviors, significant group by ASD characteristics interaction effects were noticed for self-reported harsh punishment and adapting the environment. Autism Res 2018, 11: 1000-1010. © 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: A number of studies have concluded that parents of children with ASD experience high levels of parenting stress. However, little is known about their parenting behaviors. Especially parenting in adolescence remains under investigated, although this period is associated with additional challenges for both adolescents and their parents. In this study, 44 adolescents with ASD and a control group of 38 adolescents without ASD, aged 12-16 years old, participated together with their mother. We compared parenting behaviors between the two groups, based on observations of mother-child interactions and a questionnaire that was filled out by the mother. During the observation, mothers of adolescents with ASD showed more sensitivity and creativity, compared to the control group. In addition, the questionnaire responses indicated that mothers in the ASD group adapted the environment more by for example, establishing routines. Furthermore, this study investigated the role of parenting stress and ASD characteristics of the mother on parenting behavior. Parenting stress was associated with less self-reported positive parenting. Higher levels of ASD characteristics of the mother were related to more negativity and less sensitivity during the observation in both groups, and more self-reported harsh punishment and adapting the environment in the control group only.
    Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Published
  • Vanmarcke, Steven; Noens, Ilse; Steyaert, Jean; Wagemans, Johan; 2018. Change detection of meaningful objects in real-world scenes in adolescents with and without ASD. Autism; 2018; Vol. 22; iss. 6; pp. 728 - 739
    LIRIAS1628431
    description
    Previous research suggested that adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are better than Typically Developing (TD) children in detecting local, non-social details within complex visual scenes. To better understand these differences, we used the image database by Sareen and colleagues (2015), containing the size and on-screen location information of all changes in the images, in a change blindness paradigm. In this task an original and a modified real-world scene, separated by a grey blank, alternate repeatedly until observers detect the change. Our results indicated that participants with and without ASD performed similarly when scenes were presented upright, but that only the performance of the TD adolescents became worse in the inverted scene condition. In this condition, the correlation between performance and both image difficulty and change predictability was significantly weaker in ASD than in TD participants. We suggest that these findings result from a more locally biased search strategy in people with ASD, compared to TD participants, in tasks in which the rapid processing of global information does not help to improve change detection performance. Finally, although we found change location, change size and age to influence participant performance, none of these was directly linked to the observed group-level differences.
    Publisher: SAGE Publications in association with the National Autistic Society
    Published
  • Prinsen, Jellina; Brams, Stephanie; Alaerts, Kaat; 2018. To mirror or not to mirror upon mutual gaze, oxytocin can pave the way: A cross-over randomized placebo-controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology; 2018; Vol. 90; pp. 148 - 156
    LIRIAS1633425
    description
    The eyes constitute a highly salient cue to communicate social intent. Previous research showed that direct eye contact between two individuals can readily evoke an increased propensity to ‘mirror’ other peoples’ actions. Considering the implicated role of the ‘prosocial’ neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) in enhancing the saliency of social cues and modulating approach/avoidance motivational tendencies, the current study adopted the non-invasive brain stimulation technique transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to explore whether a single dose of intranasal OXT (24 IU) modulated (enhanced) a person’s propensity to show heightened ‘mirroring’ or ‘motor resonance’ upon salient social cues, such as eye contact. The study involved a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial with twenty-seven healthy adult men (18-31y). By applying single-pulse TMS over the primary motor cortex during movement observation, it was shown that motor resonance was significantly higher when movement observation was accompanied by direct, compared to averted gaze, but that a single dose of OXT did not uniformly enhance this effect. Significant moderations of the treatment effect were noted however, indicating that participants with high self-reports of attachment avoidance displayed a stronger OXT-treatment effect (enhancement of motor resonance upon direct eye contact), compared to participants with low attachment avoidance. Particularly, while participants with high attachment avoidance initially displayed a reduced propensity to increase their motor resonance upon direct eye contact, a single dose of OXT was able to promote an otherwise avoidant individual’s propensity to engage in motor resonance upon a salient social cue such as eye contact.
    Publisher: Pergamon Press
    Published
  • Boets, Bart; Van Eylen, Lien; Sitek, K; Moors, Pieter; Noens, Ilse; Steyaert, Jean; Sunaert, Stefan; Wagemans, Johan; 2018. Alterations in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus in autism and associations with visual processing: A diffusion-weighted MRI study. Molecular Autism; 2018; Vol. 9; iss. 10; pp. 1 - 14
    LIRIAS1628278
    description
    Background: One of the most reported neural features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the alteration of multiple long-range white matter fiber tracts, as assessed by diffusion-weighted imaging and indexed by reduced fractional anisotropy (FA). Recent methodological advances, however, have shown that this same pattern of reduced FA may be an artifact resulting from excessive head motion and poorer data quality and that aberrant structural connectivity in children with ASD is confined to the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). This study aimed at replicating the observation of reduced FA along the right ILF in ASD, while controlling for group differences in head motion and data quality. In addition, we explored associations between reduced FA in the right ILF and quantitative ASD characteristics, and the involvement of the right ILF in visual processing, which is known to be altered in ASD. Method: Global probabilistic tractography was performed on diffusion-weighted imaging data of 17 adolescent boys with ASD and 17 typically developing boys, matched for age, performance IQ, handedness, and data quality. Four tasks were administered to measure various aspects of visual information processing, together with questionnaires assessing ASD characteristics. Group differences were examined and the neural data were integrated with previously published findings using Bayesian statistics to quantify evidence for replication and to pool data and thus increase statistical power. (Partial) correlations were calculated to investigate associations between measures. Results: The ASD group showed consistently reduced FA only in the right ILF and slower performance on the visual search task. Bayesian statistics pooling data across studies confirmed that group differences in FA were confined to the right ILF only, with the evidence for altered FA in the left ILF being indecisive. Lower FA in the right ILF tended to covary with slower visual search and a more fragmented part-oriented processing style. Individual differences in FA of the right ILF were not reliably associated with the severity of ASD traits after controlling for clinical status. Conclusion: Our findings support the growing evidence for reduced FA along a specific fiber tract in ASD, the right ILF.
    Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
    Published
  • van Esch, Lotte; O'Nions, Liz; Hannes, Karin; Ceulemans, Eva; Van Leeuwen, Karla; Noens, Ilse; 2018. Parenting early adolescents with autism spectrum disorder before and after transition to secondary School. Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders; 2018; Vol. 2; pp. 179 - 189
    LIRIAS1787788
    description

    Publisher: Springer
    Published
  • Van Eylen, Lien; Boets, Bart; Steyaert, Jean; Wagemans, Johan; Noens, Ilse; 2018. Local and global visual processing in autism spectrum disorders: Influence of task and sample characteristics and relation to symptom severity. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; 2018; Vol. 48; iss. 4; pp. 1359 - 1381
    LIRIAS1563982
    description
    Local and global visual processing abilities and processing style were investigated in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) versus typically developing individuals, children versus adolescents and boys versus girls. Individuals with ASD displayed more attention to detail in daily life, while laboratory tasks showed slightly reduced global processing abilities, intact local processing abilities, and a more locally oriented processing style. However, the presence of these group differences depended on particular task and sample (i.e., age and gender) characteristics. Most measures of local and global processing did not correlate with each other and were not associated with processing style. Significant associations between local–global processing and ASD symptom severity were observed, but the causality of these associations remains unclear.
    Publisher: Plenum Press
    Published
  • Cosemans, Nele; Vandenhove, Laura; Maljaars, Jarymke; Van Esch, Hilde; Devriendt, Koenraad; Baldwin, Amanda; Fryns, Jean-Pierre; Noens, Ilse; Peeters, Hilde; 2018. ZNF462 and KLF12 are disrupted by a de novo translocation in a patient with syndromic intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. European Journal of Medical Genetics; 2018; Vol. 61; iss. 7; pp. 376 - 383
    LIRIAS1635346
    description
    We describe a patient with a de novo balanced translocation 46,XY,t(9; 13)(q31.2; q22.1) and autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, a metopic craniosynostosis, a corpus callosum dysgenesis and dysmorphic facial features, most notably ptosis. Breakpoint mapping was performed by means of targeted locus amplification (TLA) and sequencing, because conventional breakpoint mapping by means of fluorescent in situ hybridization and long-range PCR was hampered by a complex submicroscopic rearrangement. The translocation breakpoints directly affected the genes KLF12 (chromosome 13) and ZNF462 (chromosome 9). The latter gene was disrupted by multiple breakpoints, resulting in the loss of three fragments and a rearrangement of the remaining fragments. Therefore, haploinsufficiency of ZNF462 was assumed. Loss-of-function variants in ZNF462 have recently been published by Weiss et al. (2017) in a series of eight patients from six independent families delineating the ZNF462-associated phenotype. The latter closely matches with the clinical features of the current translocation patient. Besides, no direct evidence for an association of KLF12 to the phenotypic features was found. Therefore, we conclude that the phenotype of the current patient is mainly caused by the disruption of ZNF462. We present clinical data from birth to adulthood and data on the cognitive and behavioral profile of the current patient which may add to a more precise counseling and surveillance of development in young children with ZNF462 mutations. In addition, the current case illustrates that TLA is an efficient method for determining complex chromosomal breakpoints.
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Accepted
  • book
    Peeters, Yoni; van Esch, Lotte; Maljaars, Jarymke; Lambrechts, Greet; Boonen, Hannah; Van Leeuwen, Karla; Noens, Ilse; 2018. Opvoeden & autisme: een inspiratiegids voor ouders. Publisher: ACCO
    LIRIAS1793821
    description


    Published
  • Cosemans, N; Claes, Peter; Brison, N; Vermeesch, J; Peeters, H; 2018. Noise-robust assessment of SNP array based CNV calls through local noise estimation of log R ratios. Statistical Applications in Genetics and Molecular Biology; 2018; Vol. 17; iss. 2; pp. -
    LIRIAS1659824
    description
    Arrays based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been successful for the large scale discovery of copy number variants (CNVs). However, current CNV calling algorithms still have limitations in detecting CNVs with high specificity and sensitivity, especially in case of small (< /100 kb) CNVs. Therefore, this study presents a simple statistical analysis to evaluate CNV calls from SNP arrays in order to improve the noise-robustness of existing CNV calling algorithms. The proposed approach estimates local noise of log R ratios and returns the probability that a certain observation is different from this log R ratio noise level. This probability can be triggered at different thresholds to tailor specificity and/or sensitivity in a flexible way. Moreover, a comparison based on qPCR experiments showed that the proposed noise-robust CNV calls outperformed original ones for multiple threshold values.
    Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG
    Published
  • presentation
    Cosemans, Nele; Vandenhove, Laura; Shen, Sanbing; Fitzgerald, Jacqueline; Gallagher, Louise; Peeters, Hilde; 2018. The clinical relevance of intragenic NRXN1 deletions.
    LIRIAS1659823
    description


    Accepted
  • Tops, Wim; Noens, Ilse; Baeyens, Dieter; 2017. A multi-method assessment of study strategies in higher education students with an autism spectrum disorder. Learning & Individual Differences; 2017; Vol. 59; pp. 141 - 148
    LIRIAS1390687
    description
    © 2017 Elsevier Inc. Recent research shows that the number of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) attending higher education (HE) is increasing. However, their academic success rates and chances of graduating are lower than reported for typically developing peers. Combining a self-report study- attitude and -strategies inventory and empirical think-aloud protocols, this study is the first to use a multi-method design to try and explain these differences in first-year undergraduates with and without ASD. It was investigated whether, compared to typical controls, HE students with ASD find it more difficult to glean relevant information from their study material, have poorer academic-planning and purposeful-acting skills and are metacognitively less proficient. No group differences were found for motivation, fear of failure or time management. The undergraduates with ASD did have more problems selecting relevant information from study materials than their typical peers and knew and used fewer relevant study strategies. The results presented relate to the three dominant explanatory models of ASD. They contribute to the available evidence and to a profile of HE students with ASD detailing their academic strengths and weaknesses, allowing student guidance protocols to be tailored to their specific needs. Recommendations for such protocols are given.
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Published
  • journal-article
    Matsuo, Hideko; 2017. Second European Society of Historical Demographic Conference 第2回ヨーロッパ歴史人口学会. Journal of Population Studies; 2017; Vol. 53; pp. 63 - 69
    LIRIAS1873823
    description

    Publisher: The Population Association of Japan
    Published
  • Jansen, Rianne; 2017. Young children with language difficulties: A dimensional approach.
    LIRIAS1769166
    description
    Young children with language difficulties form a heterogeneous group. These children do not only differ with respect to the nature and severity of their language difficulties but also with respect to their abilities in other domains of functioning and their development over time. Early language difficulties can signal the presence of a neurodevelopmental disorder. Diagnostic criteria for these disorders are outlined in the DSM-5 and ICD-10. The categorical nature of these nosologies has been subjected to considerable criticism which is mainly related to the validity of currently delineated disorders. Some have, therefore, argued in favor of a dimensional approach. Quantitative data are not only more sensitive to intra- and inter-individual differences but may also lead to bottom-up constructed subgroups that can complement or replace current diagnostic categories. This research project is framed within the categorical-dimensional debate surrounding the assessment and conceptualization of psychopathology. A dimensional approach was used to analyze the ability profiles of 36 clinically referred, two-to-four-year old children with language difficulties. A multi-informant, multi-method approach was used to analyze these children’s cognitive, adaptive, and language abilities in addition to their mastery of two important language prerequisites - intentional communication and symbol formation - and the presence of problem behavior. A longitudinal design was chosen in order to track children’s development over time. We aimed to study the added value of a dimensional approach compared to current categorical paradigm. Once this added value was established, we identified dimensions of interest for unraveling the heterogeneity among young children with language difficulties (Chapter 2) and predicting later diagnosis (Chapter 3) as well as the presence of problem behavior (Chapter 4). During the course of this research project, 61% of the participating children was diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder. The heterogeneity within our sample was, however, best captured by means of (constellations of) dimensional data. Four more homogeneous subgroups could be constructed that were based on the interrelatedness among children’s abilities. These subgroups differed along the dimensions of cognitive abilities, intentional communication, symbol formation, and the presence of autism-related characteristics. Moreover, information on children’s cognitive abilities, receptive language abilities, and their ability to communicate intentionally had prognostic value. Taken together, the results of this dissertation stress the added value of a dimensional approach in the assessment of developmental difficulties. Multidisciplinary, dimensional assessment from a biopsychosocial perspective is a necessary first step in the diagnostic work-up of any young child presenting with language difficulties. A DSM or ICD categorical diagnosis should be established second, if needed. Diagnostic labels do, nevertheless, have their value. We, therefore, believe that the categorical-dimensional debate should be about the order in which either approach is used, rather than about the superiority of one approach over the other.

    Published
  • Clauwaert, Sarah; Steyaert, Jean; Noens, Ilse; Baeyens, Dieter; 2017. Transitiezorg voor jongvolwassenen met ASS: een literatuurstudie naar richtlijnen en ‘good practices’. Signaal: Significant voor de professionele hulpverlener; 2017; Vol. 26; iss. 100; pp. 8 - 26
    LIRIAS1768760
    description
    Jongvolwassenen (18-25 jaar) met een autismespectrumstoornis (ASS) bevinden zich in een uitdagende levensfase die gekenmerkt wordt door persoonlijke exploratie en verandering op allerlei levensdomeinen. Eén aanzienlijke verandering is de transitie van kind/jongerenzorg naar volwassenenzorg, een overgang waarin gepaste en kwaliteitsvolle transitiezorg een essentiële rol kan spelen. In dit artikel bespreken we eerst wat transitiezorg is, om vervolgens in te zoomen op mogelijke struikelblokken die ermee gepaard gaan. Ten slotte behandelen we de beschikbare richtlijnen en ‘good practices’ voor transitiezorg aan jongvolwassenen met ASS.
    Publisher: Stichting Integratie Gehandicapten
    Published
  • presentation
    Maljaars, Jarymke; Maes, Bea; Noens, Ilse; 2017. Exploring effectiveness of non-symbolic augmentative communication for adults with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder and challenging behaviour. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities; 2017; Vol. 10; pp. 178 - 179 Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
    LIRIAS1391929
    description
    Aims: This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of individualized non-symbolic augmentative communication strategies for adults with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Method: Five minimally verbal adults with ASD and severe intellectual disability participated in our replicated single-case experiment study. Based on the administration of the ComFor (Verpoorten et al., 2016) and a video observation, an individualized intervention plan for augmentative communication was designed for one activity. Transitions between activities, different steps or choices within the activity were communicated by recognizable sensations, presenting functional objects, or by assembling or matching methods. The single-case experiments comprised a baseline (1-2 weeks) and intervention phase (1-3 months). The outcome variables – level of independence, quality of mood, and severity of challenging behaviour – were measured daily based on an observation form for caregivers. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were administered from clinicians (n = 10) to evaluate experienced feasibility and effectiveness of the intervention. Results: For all participants, improvement on one or more outcome measures was seen during the activity after augmentative communication was implemented. Effect size measures showed stronger results for level of independence compared to mood and challenging behaviour. By using HLMs to aggregate the single-case results, significant effects for all three outcome measures were found at the group level. Based on the interviews, several challenges and facilitating factors of the implementation of this intervention will be discussed. Conclusions: This study provides the first empirical evidence to support the use of non-symbolic communication strategies for minimally verbal adults with ASD and intellectual disability.

    Published
  • presentation
    Maljaars, Jarymke; Steyaert, Jean; Noens, Ilse; 2017. Probleemgedrag en levenskwaliteit bij kinderen en jongeren met autismespectrumstoornis en verstandelijke beperking.
    LIRIAS1769171
    description
    Het samengaan van een ASS met een verstandelijke beperking zorgt voor een verhoogde kans op de aanwezigheid van ernstige en langdurige probleemgedrag, zoals agressie, destructief en zelfverwondend gedrag (Cervantes & Matson, 2015). De aanwezigheid van probleemgedrag heeft vaak negatieve gevolgen voor de persoon zelf en zijn of haar omgeving. Zo kan probleemgedrag zorgen voor beperkingen in zelfstandig functioneren, interpersoonlijke relaties en behandel- of begeleidingsmogelijkheden. De zorg voor personen met gedragsproblemen wordt door ouders en hulpverleners vaak als uitermate stressvol ervaren (Hastings et al., 2006). Centrum GAUZZ (UPC KU Leuven en Multiversum) begeleidt en behandelt kinderen en jongeren van 6 tot en met 25 jaar met ASS, die functioneren op het niveau van een matige tot ernstige verstandelijke beperking, met ernstig probleemgedrag. Aan de hand van gegevens verzameld binnen de hulpverleningstrajecten van kinderen en jongeren binnen Centrum GAUZZ (n = 50) willen we nagaan hoe de aard en ernst van het probleemgedrag een impact hebben op de levenskwaliteit van de persoon zelf en zijn/haar directe omgeving. Waarom is het belangrijk om binnen de hulpverlening aan deze doelgroep aandacht te hebben voor levenskwaliteit? Welke aanknopingspunten geeft dit voor begeleiding en behandeling?

    Published
  • Vanmarcke, Steven; Van de Cruys, Sander; Moors, Pieter; Wagemans, Johan; 2017. Intact animacy perception during chase detection in ASD. Scientific Reports; 2017; Vol. 7; iss. 1; pp. -
    LIRIAS1457712
    description
    We explored the strength of implicit social inferences in adolescents with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using a chasing paradigm in which participants judged the absence/presence of a chase within a display of four seemingly randomly moving dots. While two of these dots always moved randomly, the two others could fulfill the role of being either the chasing (wolf) or chased (sheep) dot. In the chase-present (but not the chase-absent) trials the wolf displayed chasing behavior defined by the degree to which the dot reliably moved towards the sheep (chasing subtlety). Previous research indicated that chasing subtlety strongly influenced chase detection in typically developing (TD) adults. We intended to replicate and extend this finding to adolescents with and without ASD, while also adding either a social or a non-social cue to the displays. Our results confirmed the importance of chasing subtlety and indicated that adding social, but not non-social, information further improved chase detection performance. Interestingly, the performance of adolescents with ASD was less dependent on chasing subtlety than that of their TD counterparts. Nonetheless, adolescents with and without ASD did not differ in their use of the added social (or non-social) cue.
    Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
    Published
  • Bernaerts, Sylvie; Dillen, Claudia; Steyaert, Jean; Wenderoth, Nici; Alaerts, Kaat; 2017. Long-term effects of oxytocin on fronto-amygdala connectivity in autism: A randomized placebo-controlled trial.
    LIRIAS1687228
    description
    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impairments in social interaction and repetitive and restricted behaviors. To date, no pharmacological treatment exists targeting the core symptoms of ASD, yet the pharmacological use of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has gained interest from the research community to explore its potential for elevating social deficits in ASD. We aimed to examine neural and behavioral effects of single- and multiple-dose OT treatment and the possibility of retention effects one month post-treatment using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, between-subject clinical trial including thirty-eight adult men with ASD. A key question was to determine whether similar neural effects are observed after single- versus multiple-dose treatment; whether the neural effects are paralleled by behavioral improvements on core ASD symptoms and specifically, whether the observed effects can outlast the period of actual administration. Doses of 24 IU oxytocin (Syntocinon®, Sigma-tau) or placebo nasal spray (saline natrium-chloride solution) were administered daily for four weeks. Resting-state fMRI neuroimaging was adopted to evaluate ‘intrinsic’ OT-induced changes in functional connectivity of amygdala-prefrontal circuits at rest (medial prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex). Behavioral effects of OT treatment were primarily assessed on two core ASD symptoms via self-report questionnaires: restricted and repetitive behavior and social responsiveness, and secondarily, on self-reports of state attachment, trait attachment, and quality of life. Data showed that four-week OT-treatment (24 IU/day) reduced functional connectivity of the amygdala with prefrontal regions in the orbitofrontal cortex until one month post-treatment. Neural changes in amygdala-prefrontal coupling were shown to be paralleled by behavioral improvements in repetitive behavior, attachment avoidance and social motivation. These findings provide further insights into the biological mechanism by which oxytocin exerts its prosocial effects and the observation that the neural and behavioral effects outlasted the period of actual administration further supports the therapeutic potential of oxytocin interventions for ASD.

    Accepted
  • Mattys, Laura; Noens, Ilse; Evers, Kris; Baeyens, Dieter; 2017. "Hold me tight so I can go it alone": Developmental themes for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder". Qualitative Health Research; 2017; Vol. 28; iss. 2; pp. 321 - 333
    LIRIAS1589205
    description
    Although research shows that young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) struggle with higher rates of depression, anxiety and other co-occurring psychiatric disorders, their psychological development through emerging adulthood remains understudied. To explore relevant developmental themes for young adults with ASD whilst subscribing to a social-constructionist epistemology, we interviewed young adults with ASD and their mental health care professionals individually, and organized focus groups with their parents in a multi-perspective design. Developmental themes were identified using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Despite a substantial body of research considering lack of social motivation a central ASD characteristic, narratives were remarkably socially-oriented. This article discusses the overarching themes of (1) searching for balance and negotiating ASD and (2) searching for suitable surroundings in different areas of life, as well as their implications for clinical practice.
    Publisher: SAGE Publications
    Published
  • Alaerts, Kaat; Swinnen, S; Wenderoth, Nici; 2017. Neural processing of biological motion in autism: An investigation of brain activity and effective connectivity. Scientific Reports; 2017; Vol. 7; iss. 1; pp. 1 - 13
    LIRIAS1180809
    description
    The superior temporal sulcus (STS) forms a key region for social information processing and disruptions of its function have been associated with socio-communicative impairments characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Task-based fMRI was applied in 15 adults with ASD and 15 matched typical-controls (TC) to explore differences in activity and effective connectivity of STS while discriminating either ‘intact’ versus ‘scrambled’ biological motion point light displays (explicit processing) or responding to a color-change while the ‘intact’ versus ‘scrambled’ nature of the stimulus was irrelevant for the task (implicit processing). STS responded stronger to ‘intact’ than ‘scrambled’ stimuli in both groups, indicating that the basic encoding of ‘biological’ versus ‘non-biological’ motion seems to be intact in ASD. Only in the TC-group however, explicit attention to the biological motion content induced an augmentation of STS-activity, which was not observed in the ASD-group. Overall, these findings suggest an inadequacy to recruit STS upon task demand in ASD, rather than a generalized alteration in STS neural processing. The importance of attention orienting for recruiting relevant neural resources was further underlined by the observation that connectivity between STS and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), a key region in attention regulation, effectively modulated STS-recruitment in the ASD-group.
    Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
    Published