The neural circuitry of restricted repetitive behavior: Magnetic resonance imaging in neurodevelopmental disorders and animal models

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Restricted, repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are patterns of behavior that exhibit little variation in form and have no obvious function. RRBs although transdiagonstic are a particularly prominent feature of certain neurodevelopmental disorders, yet relatively little is known about the neural circuitry of RRBs. Past work in this area has focused on isolated brain regions and neurotransmitter systems, but implementing a neural circuit approach has the potential to greatly improve understanding of RRBs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is well-suited to studying the structural and functional connectivity of the nervous system, and is a highly translational research tool. In this review, we synthesize MRI research from both neurodevelopmental disorders and relevant animal models that informs the neural circuitry of RRB. Together, these studies implicate distributed neural circuits between the cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum. Despite progress in neuroimaging of RRB, there are many opportunities for conceptual and methodological improvement. We conclude by suggesting future directions for MRI research in RRB, and how such studies can benefit from complementary approaches in neuroscience.

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