The autism brain imaging data exchange: Towards a large-scale evaluation of the intrinsic brain architecture in autism

A. Di Martino, C. G. Yan, Q. Li, E. Denio, F. X. Castellanos, K. Alaerts, J. S. Anderson, M. Assaf, S. Y. Bookheimer, M. Dapretto, B. Deen, S. Delmonte, I. Dinstein, B. Ertl-Wagner, D. A. Fair, L. Gallagher, D. P. Kennedy, C. L. Keown, C. Keysers, J. E. LainhartC. Lord, B. Luna, V. Menon, N. J. Minshew, C. S. Monk, S. Mueller, R. A. Müller, M. B. Nebel, J. T. Nigg, K. O'Hearn, K. A. Pelphrey, S. J. Peltier, J. D. Rudie, S. Sunaert, M. Thioux, J. M. Tyszka, L. Q. Uddin, J. S. Verhoeven, N. Wenderoth, J. L. Wiggins, S. H. Mostofsky, M. P. Milham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

791 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) represent a formidable challenge for psychiatry and neuroscience because of their high prevalence, lifelong nature, complexity and substantial heterogeneity. Facing these obstacles requires large-scale multidisciplinary efforts. Although the field of genetics has pioneered data sharing for these reasons, neuroimaging had not kept pace. In response, we introduce the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) - a grassroots consortium aggregating and openly sharing 1112 existing resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (R-fMRI) data sets with corresponding structural MRI and phenotypic information from 539 individuals with ASDs and 573 age-matched typical controls (TCs; 7-64 years) (http://fcon-1000.projects. Here, we present this resource and demonstrate its suitability for advancing knowledge of ASD neurobiology based on analyses of 360 male subjects with ASDs and 403 male age-matched TCs. We focused on whole-brain intrinsic functional connectivity and also survey a range of voxel-wise measures of intrinsic functional brain architecture. Whole-brain analyses reconciled seemingly disparate themes of both hypo- and hyperconnectivity in the ASD literature; both were detected, although hypoconnectivity dominated, particularly for corticocortical and interhemispheric functional connectivity. Exploratory analyses using an array of regional metrics of intrinsic brain function converged on common loci of dysfunction in ASDs (mid- and posterior insula and posterior cingulate cortex), and highlighted less commonly explored regions such as the thalamus. The survey of the ABIDE R-fMRI data sets provides unprecedented demonstrations of both replication and novel discovery. By pooling multiple international data sets, ABIDE is expected to accelerate the pace of discovery setting the stage for the next generation of ASD studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-667
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the numerous contributors at each site (see Supplementary Table 2 and, particularly Drs Marlene Behrmann and Leonardo Cerliani for their efforts in the collection, organization and sharing of their data sets; the NITRC ( for providing the data sharing platform for the ABIDE initiative as well as the other informatics databases for providing additional platforms (see We also thank Ranjit Khanuja and Sharad Sikka for programming support; Dr R Cameron Craddock for invaluable suggestions regarding data analysis, as well as oversight of the development of the Configurable Pipeline for the Analysis of Connectomes, and Drs Zhen Yang and Clare Kelly for suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. Support for ABIDE coordination and data aggregation was partially provided by NIMH (K23MH087770, R03MH09632 and BRAINSRO1MH094639-01), the Leon Levy Foundation and by gifts from Joseph P Healey and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Support for data collection at each site was provided by NIH (DC011095, MH084164, K01MH092288-Stanford; HD55748, KO1MH081191, MH67924-Pitt; K08MH092697, P50MH60450, R01NS34783, R01MH080826, T32DC008553-USM; K23MH087770, R01HD065282, R01MH081218, R21MH084126-NYU; MH066496, R21MH079871, U19HD035482-UM1&UM2; R00MH091238, R01MH086654, R01MH096773-OHSU; R01MH081023-SDSU; 1R01HD06528001-UCLA1 and -UCLA2; K01MH071284-Yale; R01MH080721; K99/R00MH094409-Caltech), Autism Speaks (KKI, NYU, Olin, UM1 and 2, Pitt, USM, Yale), NINDS (R01NS048527; KKI), NICHD (Yale) NICHD (P50 HD055784; UCLA1 and 2), NICHD/NIDCD (P01/U19; CMU) the Simons Foundation (OHSU, Yale, Caltech, CMU), the Belgian Interuniversity Attraction Poles Grant (P6/29; Leuven 1 and 2), Ben B and Iris M Margolis Foundation (USM), European Commission, Marie Curie Excellence Grant (MEXT-CT-2005-023253; SBL), Flanders Fund for Scientific Research (1841313N, G.0354.06, G.0758.10; and post-doc grant; Leuven 1 and 2), Hartford Hospital (Olin), John Merck Scholars Fund (Yale), Kyulan Family Foundation (Trinity), Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) Predoctoral Fellowship (UM1 and 2), The Meath Foundation, Adelaide & Meath Hospital, Dublin Incorporating the National Children’s Hospital (AMNCH; Trinity), National Initiative for Brain and Cognition NIHC HCMI (056-13-014, 056-13-017; SBL), NWO (051.07.003, 452-04-305, 400-08-089; SBL) and Netherlands Brain Foundation (KS 2010(1)-29; SBL), NRSA Pre-doctoral Fellowship (F31DC010143; USM), Research Council of the University of Leuven (Leuven 1 and 2), Singer Foundation and Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovations and Translational Neurosciences (Stanford), Leon Levy Foundation (NYU), Stavros Niarchos Foundation (NYU), UCLA Autism Center of Excellence (UCLA1 and 2), Autism Science Foundation (Yale) and University of Utah Multidisciplinary Research Seed Grant (USM).


  • data sharing
  • default network
  • interhemispheric connectivity
  • intrinsic functional connectivity
  • resting-state fMRI
  • thalamus


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