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Task-related functional connectivity in autism spectrum conditions: an EEG study using wavelet transform coherence

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Author(s): Catarino Ana | Andrade Alexandre | Churches Owen | Wagner Adam P | Baron-Cohen Simon | Ring Howard

Journal: Molecular Autism
ISSN 2040-2392

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Autism spectrum conditions | Interhemispheric coherence | Atypical connectivity | Wavelet transform coherence

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are a set of pervasive neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by a wide range of lifelong signs and symptoms. Recent explanatory models of autism propose abnormal neural connectivity and are supported by studies showing decreased interhemispheric coherence in individuals with ASC. The first aim of this study was to test the hypothesis of reduced interhemispheric coherence in ASC, and secondly to investigate specific effects of task performance on interhemispheric coherence in ASC. Methods We analyzed electroencephalography (EEG) data from 15 participants with ASC and 15 typical controls, using Wavelet Transform Coherence (WTC) to calculate interhemispheric coherence during face and chair matching tasks, for EEG frequencies from 5 to 40 Hz and during the first 400 ms post-stimulus onset. Results Results demonstrate a reduction of interhemispheric coherence in the ASC group, relative to the control group, in both tasks and for all electrode pairs studied. For both tasks, group differences were generally observed after around 150 ms and at frequencies lower than 13 Hz. Regarding within-group task comparisons, while the control group presented differences in interhemispheric coherence between faces and chairs tasks at various electrode pairs (FT7-FT8, TP7-TP8, P7-P8), such differences were only seen for one electrode pair in the ASC group (T7-T8). No significant differences in EEG power spectra were observed between groups. Conclusions Interhemispheric coherence is reduced in people with ASC, in a time and frequency specific manner, during visual perception and categorization of both social and inanimate stimuli and this reduction in coherence is widely dispersed across the brain. Results of within-group task comparisons may reflect an impairment in task differentiation in people with ASC relative to typically developing individuals. Overall, the results of this research support the value of WTC in examining the time-frequency microstructure of task-related interhemispheric EEG coherence in people with ASC.

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