Background: Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is used to measure the auditory evoked magnetic field (AEF), which reflects language-related performance. In young children, however, the simultaneous quantification of the bilateral auditory-evoked response during binaural hearing is difficult using conventional adult-sized MEG systems. Recently, a child-customised MEG device has facilitated the acquisition of bi-hemispheric recordings, even in young children. Using the child-customised MEG device, we previously reported that language-related performance was reflected in the strength of the early component (P50m) of the auditory evoked magnetic field (AEF) in typically developing (TD) young children (2 to 5 years old) [Eur J Neurosci 2012, 35:644-650]. The aim of this study was to investigate how this neurophysiological index in each hemisphere is correlated with language performance in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and TD children. Methods. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure the auditory evoked magnetic field (AEF), which reflects language-related performance. We investigated the P50m that is evoked by voice stimuli (/ne/) bilaterally in 33 young children (3 to 7 years old) with ASD and in 30 young children who were typically developing (TD). The children were matched according to their age (in months) and gender. Most of the children with ASD were high-functioning subjects. Results: The results showed that the children with ASD exhibited significantly less leftward lateralisation in their P50m intensity compared with the TD children. Furthermore, the results of a multiple regression analysis indicated that a shorter P50m latency in both hemispheres was specifically correlated with higher language-related performance in the TD children, whereas this latency was not correlated with non-verbal cognitive performance or chronological age. The children with ASD did not show any correlation between P50m latency and language-related performance; instead, increasing chronological age was a significant predictor of shorter P50m latency in the right hemisphere. Conclusions: Using a child-customised MEG device, we studied the P50m component that was evoked through binaural human voice stimuli in young ASD and TD children to examine differences in auditory cortex function that are associated with language development. Our results suggest that there is atypical brain function in the auditory cortex in young children with ASD, regardless of language development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health