Down Syndrome is the most common genetic cause for intellectual disability, yet the pathophysiology of cognitive impairment in Down Syndrome is unknown. We compared fMRI scans of 15 individuals with Down Syndrome to 14 typically developing control subjects while they viewed 50 min of cartoon video clips. There was widespread increased synchrony between brain regions, with only a small subset of strong, distant connections showing underconnectivity in Down Syndrome. Brain regions showing negative correlations were less anticorrelated and were among the most strongly affected connections in the brain. Increased correlation was observed between all of the distributed brain networks studied, with the strongest internetwork correlation in subjects with the lowest performance IQ. A functional parcellation of the brain showed simplified network structure in Down Syndrome organized by local connectivity. Despite increased interregional synchrony, intersubject correlation to the cartoon stimuli was lower in Down Syndrome, indicating that increased synchrony had a temporal pattern that was not in response to environmental stimuli, but idiosyncratic to each Down Syndrome subject. Short-range, increased synchrony was not observed in a comparison sample of 447 autism vs. 517 control subjects from the Autism Brain Imaging Exchange (ABIDE) collection of resting state fMRI data, and increased internetwork synchrony was only observed between the default mode and attentional networks in autism. These findings suggest immature development of connectivity in Down Syndrome with impaired ability to integrate information from distant brain regions into coherent distributed networks.
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