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Transient and steady-state auditory gamma-band responses in first-degree relatives of people with autism spectrum disorder

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Author(s): Rojas Donald C | Teale Peter D | Maharajh Keeran | Kronberg Eugene | Youngpeter Katie | Wilson Lisa B | Wallace Alissa | Hepburn Susan

Journal: Molecular Autism
ISSN 2040-2392

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Stimulus-related γ-band oscillations, which may be related to perceptual binding, are reduced in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The purpose of this study was to examine auditory transient and steady-state γ-band findings in first-degree relatives of people with ASD to assess the potential familiality of these findings in ASD. Methods Magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings in 21 parents who had a child with an autism spectrum disorder (pASD) and 20 healthy adult control subjects (HC) were obtained. Gamma-band phase locking factor (PLF), and evoked and induced power to 32, 40 and 48 Hz amplitude-modulated sounds were measured for transient and steady-state responses. Participants were also tested on a number of behavioral and cognitive assessments related to the broad autism phenotype (BAP). Results Reliable group differences were seen primarily for steady-state responses. In the left hemisphere, pASD subjects exhibited lower phase-locked steady-state power in all three conditions. Total γ-band power, including the non-phase-locked component, was also reduced in the pASD group. In addition, pASD subjects had significantly lower PLF than the HC group. Correlations were seen between MEG measures and BAP measures. Conclusions The reduction in steady-state γ-band responses in the pASD group is consistent with previous results for children with ASD. Steady-state responses may be more sensitive than transient responses to phase-locking errors in ASD. Together with the lower PLF and phase-locked power in first-degree relatives, correlations between γ-band measures and behavioral measures relevant to the BAP highlight the potential of γ-band deficits as a potential new autism endophenotype.
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