Atypical relationships between spontaneous EEG and fMRI activity in Autism

Lisa E. Mash, Brandon Keehn, Annika C. Linke, Thomas T. Liu, Jonathan L. Helm, Frank Haist, Jeanne Townsend, Ralph Axel Müller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have been linked to atypical communication among distributed brain networks. However, despite decades of research, the exact nature of these differences between typically developing (TD) individuals and those with ASDs remains unclear. ASDs have been widely studied using resting-state neuroimaging methods, including both functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). However, little is known about how fMRI and EEG measures of spontaneous brain activity are related in ASDs. In the present study, two cohorts of children and adolescents underwent resting-state EEG (n = 38 per group) or fMRI (n = 66 ASD, 57 TD), with a subset of individuals in both the EEG and fMRI cohorts (n = 17 per group). In the EEG cohort, parieto-occipital EEG alpha power was found to be reduced in ASDs. In the fMRI cohort, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) power was regionally increased in right temporal regions and there was widespread overconnectivity between the thalamus and cortical regions in the ASD group relative to the TD group. Finally, multimodal analyses indicated that while TD children showed consistently positive relationships between EEG alpha power and regional BOLD power, these associations were weak or negative in ASDs. These findings suggest atypical links between alpha rhythms and regional BOLD activity in ASDs, possibly implicating neural substrates and processes that coordinate thalamocortical regulation of the alpha rhythm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Connectivity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • alpha
  • autism
  • EEG
  • functional MRI
  • resting state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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