EEG hyper-connectivity in high-risk infants is associated with later autism

Elena V. Orekhova*, Mayada Elsabbagh, Emily Jh Jones, Geraldine Dawson, Tony Charman, Mark H. Johnson, Rachael Bedford, Patrick Bolton, Janice Fernandes, Natasa Ganea, Holly Garwood, Teodora Gliga, Kristelle Hudry, Michael Andrew Murias, Helena Ribeiro, Leslie Tucker, Agnes Volein, Sara Jane Webb

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    77 Scopus citations


    Background: It has been previously reported that structural and functional brain connectivity in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is atypical and may vary with age. However, to date, no measures of functional connectivity measured within the first 2 years have specifically associated with a later ASD diagnosis. Methods: In the present study, we analyzed functional brain connectivity in 14-month-old infants at high and low familial risk for ASD using electroencephalography (EEG). EEG was recorded while infants attended to videos. Connectivity was assessed using debiased weighted phase lag index (dbWPLI). At 36 months, the high-risk infants were assessed for symptoms of ASD. Results: As a group, high-risk infants who were later diagnosed with ASD demonstrated elevated phase-lagged alpha-range connectivity as compared to both low-risk infants and high-risk infants who did not go on to ASD. Hyper-connectivity was most prominent over frontal and central areas. The degree of hyper-connectivity at 14 months strongly correlated with the severity of restricted and repetitive behaviors in participants with ASD at 3 years. These effects were not attributable to differences in behavior during the EEG session or to differences in spectral power. Conclusions: The results suggest that early hyper-connectivity in the alpha frequency range is an important feature of the ASD neurophysiological phenotype.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number40
    JournalJournal of neurodevelopmental disorders
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Nov 7 2014


    • Alpha
    • Autism spectrum disorders
    • Connectivity
    • EEG
    • Infants
    • Siblings

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Clinical Neurology
    • Cognitive Neuroscience


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