Since prior diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies reported no significant differences in white matter organizations between individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their unaffected siblings, the neural correlates for developing a clinical diagnosis among people with endophenotypes remain undetermined. We obtained DTI data from a total of 60 participants consisting of 30 people with endophenotypes and 30 people without. We first followed a conventional approach by comparing individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings. Using region-of-interest approach, we then performed bootstrapping to examine whether the differences in white matter organizations between individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings were substantially large, considering the distribution of differences between typically developing (TD) siblings. Conventional approaches revealed no significant differences in white matter organizations between individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings. Bootstrapping revealed a significantly large difference in axial diffusivity in the left stria terminalis between individuals with ASD and their unaffected siblings after accounting for the distribution of differences in axial diffusivity among TD siblings (99.998 percentile). The results remained significant after controlling for multiple comparisons with Bonferroni method. We assumed that one aspect of this tract was associated with the development of a clinical diagnosis.
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