A systematic review and meta-analysis of the fMRI investigation of autism spectrum disorders

Ruth C.M. Philip, Maria R. Dauvermann, Heather C. Whalley, Katie Baynham, Stephen M. Lawrie, Andrew C. Stanfield*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

202 Citations (Scopus)


Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the investigation of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We carried out a systematic review and ALE meta-analysis of fMRI studies of ASD. A disturbance to the function of social brain regions is among the most well replicated finding. Differences in social brain activation may relate to a lack of preference for social stimuli as opposed to a primary dysfunction of these regions. Increasing evidence points towards a lack of effective integration of distributed functional brain regions and disruptions in the subtle modulation of brain function in relation to changing task demands in ASD. Limitations of the literature to date include the use of small sample sizes and the restriction of investigation to primarily high functioning males with autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-942
Number of pages42
JournalNeuroscience and biobehavioral reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors report no conflicts of interest. RCMP and KB were funded by a Medical Research Scotland grant awarded to ACS. HCW is supported by a Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship from the Royal Society . During this work ACS was supported by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellowship . Further support for this study came from the Patrick Wild Centre .


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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