Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biochemistry and University Honors



First Advisor

Damien A. Fair


Autism spectrum disorders -- Molecular aspects, Autism spectrum disorders -- Diagnosis, Biochemical markers, Neurophysiology




With 1 out of every 59 adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), more research interest has been dedicated to studying why ASD individuals experience their symptoms of restricted and/or repetitive behaviors, and deficits in social interaction and communication. ASD can only be diagnosed by psychiatric evaluation of behavior, and there is a lack of reliable biomarkers for ASD to verify the diagnosis. To potentially find a reliable biomarker, we compared cortical thickness in 911 ASD subjects and 999 controls from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) dataset. The dataset was processed using the Developmental Cognition and Neuroimaging (DCAN) Labs modified version of the Human Connectome Project (HCP) pipeline. Permutation Analysis of Linear Models (PALM) was used to compare the difference of cortical thickness between ASD and control subjects. An increase of cortical thickness was found in the visual and somatomotor cortex of ASD subjects. Specific differences were found in the left superior parietal (p = 0.0565; cluster size = 202.75 mm2), left occipital lobe (p = 0.0861; cluster size = 175.13 mm2), left temporal lobe (p = 0.0582; cluster size = 202.76 mm2), and the right temporal lobe (p = 0.0274; cluster size = 265.5 mm2). Future directions to discover reliable biomarkers for ASD will involve exploring the correlation between cortical thickness and behavior, improving neuroimaging protocols for acceptable data acquisition, and using different datasets to further validate biomarkers.

Persistent Identifier