Electrophysiology of Inhibitory Control in the Context of Emotion Processing in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.
ABSTRACT: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an increasingly common developmental disorder that affects 1 in 59 children. Despite this high prevalence of ASD, knowledge regarding the biological basis of its associated cognitive difficulties remains scant. In this study, we aimed to identify altered neurophysiological responses underlying inhibitory control and emotion processing difficulties in ASD, together with their associations with age and various domains of cognitive and social function. This was accomplished by assessing electroencephalographic recordings during an emotional go/nogo task alongside parent rating scales of behavior. Event related potential (ERP) N200 component amplitudes were reduced in children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children. No group differences were found, however, for task performance, P300 amplitude or latency, or N170 amplitude or latency, suggesting that individuals with ASD may only present conflict monitoring abnormalities, as reflected by the reduced N200 component, compared to TD individuals. Consistent with previous findings, increased age correlated with improved task performance scores and reduced N200 amplitude in the TD group, indicating that as these children develop, their neural systems become more efficient. These associations were not identified in the ASD group. Results also showed significant associations between increased N200 amplitudes and improved executive control abilities and decreased autism traits in TD children only. The newly discovered findings of decreased brain activation in children with ASD, alongside differences in correlations with age compared to TD children, provide a potential neurophysiological indicator of atypical development of inhibitory control mechanisms in these individuals.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with impaired face processing. The N170 event-related potential (ERP) has been considered a promising neural marker of this impairment. However, no quantitative review to date has integrated the literature to assess whether the N170 response to faces in individuals with ASD differs from that of typically developing (TD) individuals. METHODS:This meta-analysis examined the corpus of literature investigating difference in N170 response to faces in individuals with ASD and without ASD. Data from 23 studies (NASD = 374, NTD = 359) were reviewed. Meta-analysis was used to examine the effect size of the difference in N170 latency and amplitude among individuals with ASD and without ASD. Analyses were also conducted examining hemispheric differences, potential moderators, and publication bias. RESULTS:On average, N170 latencies to faces were delayed in individuals with ASD, but amplitudes did not differ for individuals with ASD and TD individuals. Moderator analyses revealed that N170 amplitudes were smaller in magnitude in the ASD participants relative to the TD participants in adult samples and in those with higher cognitive ability. However, effects differed as a function of hemisphere of recording. No evidence of publication bias was found. CONCLUSIONS:Atypicality of N170-particularly latency-to faces appears to be a specific biomarker of social-communicative dysfunction in ASD and may relate to differential developmental experiences and use of compensatory cognitive mechanisms. Future research should examine phenotypic differences that contribute to N170 heterogeneity, as well as specificity of N170 differences in ASD versus non-ASD clinical populations, and N170 malleability with treatment.
Project description:<b>Background:</b> In motor imitation, taking a partner's perspective often involves a mental body transformation from an embodied, ego-centered viewpoint to a disembodied, hetero-centered viewpoint. Impairments of both own-body-transformation (OBT) and abnormalities in visual-spatial processing have been reported in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the context of a visual-motor interactive task, studying OBT impairments while disentangling the contribution of visual-spatial impairments associated with motor coordination problems has not been investigated. <b>Methods:</b> 85 children and adolescents (39 controls with typical development, TD; 29 patients with ASD; 17 patients with developmental coordination disorder, DCD), aged 6-19 years, participated in a behavioral paradigm in which participants interacted with a virtual tightrope walker (TW) standing and moving with him. The protocol enables to distinguish ego-centered and hetero-centered perspectives. <b>Results:</b> We show that (1) OBT was possible but difficult for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as for TD children, when the task required the participant to perform a mental rotation in order to adopt a hetero-centered perspective. (2) Using multivariate models, hetero-centered perspective score was significantly associated with age, TW orientation, latency, and diagnosis. ASD and TD groups' performances were close and significantly correlated with age. However, it was not the case for DCD, since this group was specifically handicapped by visual-spatial impairments. (3) ASD and DCD did not perform similarly: motor performance as shown by movement amplitude was better in DCD than ASD. ASD motor response was more ambiguous and hardly readable. <b>Conclusion</b>: Changing perspective in a spatial environment is possible for patients with ASD although delayed compared with TD children. In patients with DCD, their visual-spatial impairments negatively modulated their performances in the experiment.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>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.<h4>Methods</h4>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.<h4>Results</h4>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.<h4>Conclusions</h4>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.
Project description:BACKGROUND: People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are known to have enhanced auditory perception, however, acoustic startle response to weak stimuli has not been well documented in this population. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the basic profile of acoustic startle response, including peak startle latency and startle magnitude to weaker stimuli, in children with ASD and typical development (TD), and to evaluate their relationship to ASD characteristics. METHODS: We investigated acoustic startle response with weak and strong acoustic stimuli in 12 children with ASD and 28 children with TD, analyzing the relationship between startle measures and quantitative autistic traits assessed with the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). The electromyographic activity of the left orbicularis oculi muscle to acoustic stimuli of 65 to 115 dB sound pressure level (SPL), in increments of 5 dB, was measured to evaluate acoustic startle response. The average eyeblink magnitude for each acoustic stimuli intensity and the average peak startle latency of acoustic startle response were evaluated. RESULTS: The magnitude of the acoustic startle response to weak stimuli (85 dB or smaller) was greater in children with ASD. The peak startle latency was also prolonged in individuals with ASD. The average magnitude of the acoustic startle response for stimulus intensities greater than 85 dB was not significantly larger in the ASD group compared with the controls. Both greater startle magnitude in response to weak stimuli (particularly at 85 dB) and prolonged peak startle latency were significantly associated with total scores, as well as several subscales of the SRS in the whole sample. We also found a significant relationship between scores on the social cognition subscale of the SRS and the average magnitude of the acoustic startle response for stimulus intensities of 80 and 85 dB in the TD group. CONCLUSIONS: Children with ASD exhibited larger startle magnitude to weak stimuli and prolonged peak startle latency. These startle indices were related to several characteristics of ASD. A comprehensive investigation of acoustic startle response, including the magnitude of startle responses to weak stimuli and peak startle latency, might further our understanding of the neurophysiological impairments underlying ASD.
Project description:Sensory disturbance is associated with socio-emotional problems in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Most studies assess sensory symptoms by self-reports, which are largely limited by the language ability and self-awareness of the individuals. This study aims to investigate sensory disturbance by contact heat-evoked potentials (CHEP) in ASD individuals, and to examine the clinical correlates of CHEP parameters. We compared the CHEP parameters and reported pain between 31 ASD individuals (aged 20.5?±?5.2 years) and and 22 typically-developing controls (TD, aged 21.4?±?2.6), and correlated the CHEP parameters with self-reported sensory symptoms and attention/socio-emotional symptoms. We found that ASD individuals showed smaller P2-wave amplitudes than TD, even though they reported a similar level of pain. In TD individuals, a smaller P2-wave amplitude was related to higher scores on 'low registration,' 'attention to detail,' and 'attention switching difficulties.' In ASD individuals, longer N2-wave latency was related to higher scores on 'sensory sensitivity' and socio-emotional problems; while higher reported pain was associated with higher scores on 'low registration,' overall autistic severity, and longer N2-wave latency. Our findings of attenuated CHEP response in ASD, which was associated with sensory symptoms and socio-emotional problems, suggest a potential role for CHEP in studying sensory disturbances in ASD.
Project description:The neurophysiological mechanisms underlying motor and language difficulties in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are still largely unclear. The present work investigates biological indicators of sound processing, (action-) semantic understanding and predictive coding and their correlation with clinical symptoms of ASD. Twenty-two adults with high-functioning ASD and 25 typically developed (TD) participants engaged in an auditory, passive listening, Mismatch Negativity (MMN) task while high-density electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded. Action and non-action words were presented in the context of sounds, which were either semantically congruent with regard to the body part they relate to or semantically incongruent or unrelated. The anticipatory activity before sound onset, the Prediction Potential (PP), was significantly reduced in the ASD group specifically for action, but not for non-action sounds. The early-MMN-like responses to words (latency: 120 ms) were differentially modulated across groups: controls showed larger amplitudes for words in action-sound compared to non-action contexts, whereas ASD participants demonstrated enlarged early-MMN-like responses only in a pure tone context, with no other modulation dependent on action sound context. Late-MMN-like responses around 560 ms post-stimulus onset revealed body-part-congruent action-semantic priming for words in control participants, but not in the ASD group. Importantly, neurophysiological indices of semantic priming in ASD participants correlated with the extent of autistic traits as revealed by the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). The data suggest that high-functioning adults with ASD show a specific deficit in semantic processing and predictive coding of sounds and words related to action, which is absent for neutral, non-action, sounds.
Project description:Background:The core features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are easily recognizable in non-structured clinical and real-life situations. The features are often difficult to capture in structured laboratory settings, and the results from tests do not necessarily reflect symptom severity. We investigated neurophysiological processing in the passive parts of a cued Go-NoGo task, using the active parts of the test as a comparator. Methods:Forty-nine adolescents diagnosed with ASD and 49 typically developing (TD) adolescents (age 12-21?years) were included. Daily life executive function was assessed with the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF). We applied a visual cued Go-NoGo task and recorded event-related potentials (ERPs). We investigated occipital N1, a component related to early perception of visual stimuli, and P3a, a fronto-central component related to switching of attention, in the passive and active parts of the test. Results:During the passive parts, the ASD group had statistically significantly longer N1 latency (p?<?0.001, Cohens d?= 0.75) and enhanced amplitude of P3a (p?=?0.002, Cohens d?= 0.64) compared to the TD, while no significant differences were observed in the active parts. Both components correlated significantly with the Behavioral Regulation Index of the BRIEF (partial correlation r?=?0.35, p?=?0.003). Conclusion:Delayed N1 response, indicating altered visual perception, and enhanced P3a response, indicating increased neural activation related to attention allocation, were found during the passive parts of a Go-NoGo task in ASD participants. These abnormal ERP signals in the non-structured settings were associated with everyday executive function, suggesting that neurophysiolocal measures related to atypical control of alertness and "hyper-awareness" underlie daily life dysfunction in ASD. Assessments during passive settings have a potential to reveal core neurobiological substrates of ASD.
Project description:Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with persistent impairments in adaptive functioning across multiple domains of daily life. Thus, investigation of the biological background of both adaptive and maladaptive behaviors may shed light on developing effective interventions for improving social adaptation in ASD. In this study, we examined the relationship between adaptive/maladaptive behaviors and the acoustic startle response (ASR) and its modulation, which are promising neurophysiological markers for ASD translational research. Method: We investigated the ASR and its modulation in 11 children with ASD and 18 with typical development (TD), analyzing the relationship between startle measures and adaptive/maladaptive behaviors assessed with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) Second Edition. Results: Peak-ASR latency was negatively correlated with the VABS total score and socialization domain score of adaptive behaviors, while the ASR magnitude for relatively weak stimuli of 75-85 dB was positively correlated with VABS maladaptive behavior scores. Prepulse inhibition (PPI) at the prepulse intensity of 70-75 dB was also correlated with VABS maladaptive behavior. However, these relationships did not remain significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the prolonged peak-ASR latency of ASD children might be associated with impairment in the developmental level of adaptive behavior, and that the greater ASR magnitude to relatively weak acoustic stimuli and smaller PPI of ASD children might increase the risk of maladaptive behavior. Future studies that have larger sample sizes will be important for further elucidating the neurophysiological factors that underpin adaptive as well as maladaptive behaviors in ASD.
Project description:Childhood maltreatment is defined as experiencing of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect in childhood. Maltreatment in childhood leads to substantial psychosocial problems later in life in the general population. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a higher risk of experiencing stressful and traumatic events, such as maltreatment, during childhood. Although childhood maltreatment reportedly leads to psychosocial problems in adults with ASD, the biological associations between childhood experiences and brain function in this population remain understudied. Here, we evaluated the relationships between childhood experiences and event-related potential (ERP) components during the auditory odd-ball task in adults with ASD (N?=?21) and typically developed (TD) individuals (N?=?22). We found that the higher the severity of sexual abuse, the larger the amplitude of P300 at Fz, Cz, C3, and C4 in individuals with ASD. Conversely, the severity of child maltreatment was associated with P300 latency at Cz and C3 in TD individuals. Moreover, full IQ was significantly associated with the MMN amplitude at Fz, Cz, C3, and C4 in TD individuals. These findings provide the first evidence that ERPs could be used to study the impacts childhood experiences on the brain of individuals with ASD and that childhood sexual abuse has salient impacts on brain function in this population.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The use of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to study anatomical and physiological dynamics and circuits supporting cognition and executive functions in particular has dramatically increased in recent years. However, its mechanisms of action remain only partially understood. OBJECTIVE:In this study we assess the cognitive and physiological effects of anodal tDCS to the DLPFC on executive function in order to understand (1) the role of DLPFC laterality, (2) the physiological dynamics sustaining the modulation of executive function by tDCS, and (3) the impact of state-dependent dynamics. METHODS:In a randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study, we applied anodal tDCS targeting the left vs. right DLPFC vs. sham in 20 healthy individuals (10 males, 10 females). Immediately before and after tDCS, subjects performed the Flanker Task while we measured behavioral (reaction time and accuracy) and neurophysiological (ERP) responses. Specifically, the amplitude of N200, P300, ERN and Pe is compared before and after stimulation. RESULTS:Anodal tDCS to the left DLPFC lead to a significant improvement in reaction time, an increase in P300 amplitude and a decrease in N200 amplitude in a state-dependent manner: baseline ERP amplitudes conditioned the effects of tDCS. CONCLUSION:Given the role of these ERPs in conflict-related tasks, we speculate that tDCS is modulating the subconstructs of selective attention, conflict monitoring and response inhibition. These findings contribute to a further understanding of the role of left DLPFC in the modulation of executive function, and shed light into the mechanisms of action and the state dependent nature of tDCS.