An Altered Scaffold for Information Processing: Cognitive Control Development in Adolescents With Autism

Marjorie Solomon Friedman, Jeremy Hogeveen, Lauren E. Libero, Christine W Nordahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We investigated how cognitive neuroscientific studies during the last decade have advanced the understanding of cognitive control from adolescence to young adulthood in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To do so, we conducted a selective review of the larger structural, resting-state, and diffusion-weighted imaging studies of brain regions and networks related to cognitive control that have been conducted since 2007 in individuals with ASD and typical development (TYP) in subjects 10 to 30 years of age that examined how these regions and networks support behavioral and task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging performance on tasks assessing cognitive control. Longitudinal structural studies reveal overgrowth of the anterior cingulate cortex and slower white matter development in the parietal cortex in adolescents with ASD compared with TYP. Cross-sectional studies of the salience, executive control, and default mode resting-state functional connectivity networks, which mediate cognitive control, demonstrate patterns of connectivity that differ from TYP through adolescence. Finally, white matter tracts underlying these control-related brain regions continue to show reduced diffusion properties compared to TYP. It is thus not surprising that cognitive control task performance improves less during adolescence in ASD compared with TYP. This review shows that a cognitive neuroscientific approach produces insights about the mechanisms of persistent cognitive control deficits in individuals with ASD from adolescence into young adulthood that are not apparent with neuropsychological methods alone, and it draws attention to the great need for longitudinal studies of this period in those with ASD. Further investigation of anterior cingulate cortex and frontoparietal neural circuits may help specify pathophysiology and treatment options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Adolescent development
  • Autism
  • Cognitive control
  • Executive functions
  • Neuroimaging
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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