Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often described as a disorder of aberrant neural connectivity and/or aberrant hemispheric lateralization. Although it is important to study the pathophysiology of the developing ASD cortex, the physiological connectivity of the brain in young children with ASD under conscious conditions has not yet been described. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a noninvasive brain imaging technique that is practical for use in young children. MEG produces a reference-free signal and is, therefore, an ideal tool for computing the coherence between two distant cortical rhythms. Using a custom child-sized MEG, we recently reported that 5- to 7-year-old children with ASD (n = 26) have inherently different neural pathways than typically developing (TD) children that contribute to their relatively preserved performance of visual tasks. In this study, we performed non-invasive measurements of the brain activity of 70 young children (3-7 years old, of which 18 were aged 3-4 years), a sample consisting of 35 ASD children and 35 TD children. Physiological connectivity and the laterality of physiological connectivity were assessed using intrahemispheric coherence for 9 frequency bands. As a result, significant rightward connectivity between the parietotemporal areas, via gamma band oscillations, was found in the ASD group. As we obtained the non-invasive measurements using a custom child-sized MEG, this is the first study to demonstrate a rightward-lateralized neurophysiological network in conscious young children (including children aged 3-4 years) with ASD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology
- Cognitive Neuroscience