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Children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) share common behavioural manifestations despite distinct categorical diagnostic criteria. Here, we examined canonical resting-state network connectivity in three diagnostic groups (autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and paediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder) and typically developing controls (TD) in a large single-site sample (N = 407), applying diagnosis-based and dimensional approaches to understand underlying neurobiology across NDDs. Each participant's functional network graphs were computed using five graph metrics. In diagnosis-based comparisons, an analysis of covariance was performed to compare all NDDs to TD, followed by pairwise comparisons between NDDs. In the dimensional approach, participants' functional network graphs were correlated with continuous behavioural measures, and a data-driven k-means clustering analysis was applied to determine if subgroups of participants were seen, without diagnostic information having been included. In the diagnosis-based comparisons, children with NDDs did not differ significantly from the TD group and the NDD categorical groups also did not differ significantly from each other, across all graph metrics. In the dimensional, diagnostic-independent approach, however, subcortical functional connectivity was significantly correlated with participants' general adaptive functioning across all participants. The clustering analysis identified an optimal solution of two clusters, and participants assigned in the same data-driven cluster were highly heterogeneous in diagnosis. Neither cluster exclusively contained a specific diagnostic group, nor did NDDs separate cleanly from TDs. Each participant's distance ratio between the two clusters was significantly correlated with general adaptive functioning, social deficits and attentional problems. Our results suggest the neurobiological similarity and dissimilarity between NDDs need to be investigated beyond DSM/ICD-based, behaviourally-defined diagnostic categories.

Original publication




Journal article


Neuroimage Clin

Publication Date





ADHD, Autism, Neurodevelopmental disorder, OCD, Resting-state functional connectivity