Patterns of altered neural synchrony in the default mode network in autism spectrum disorder revealed with magnetoencephalography (MEG): Relationship to clinical symptomatology


Disrupted neural synchrony may be a primary electrophysiological abnormality in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), altering communication between discrete brain regions and contributing to abnormalities in patterns of connectivity within identified neural networks. Studies exploring brain dynamics to comprehensively characterize and link connectivity to large-scale cortical networks and clinical symptoms are lagging considerably. Patterns of neural coherence within the Default Mode Network (DMN) and Salience Network (SN) during resting state were investigated in 12 chil- dren with ASD (MAge 5 9.2) and 13 age and gender-matched neurotypicals (NT) (MAge 5 9.3) with magnetoencephalog- raphy. Coherence between 231 brain region pairs within four frequency bands (theta (4–7 Hz), alpha, (8–12 Hz), beta (13–30 Hz), and gamma (30–80 Hz)) was calculated. Relationships between neural coherence and social functioning were examined. ASD was characterized by lower synchronization across all frequencies, reaching clinical significance in the gamma band. Lower gamma synchrony between fronto-temporo-parietal regions was observed, partially consistent with diminished default mode network (DMN) connectivity. Lower gamma coherence in ASD was evident in cross-hemispheric connections between: angular with inferior/middle frontal; middle temporal with middle/inferior frontal; and within right-hemispheric connections between angular, middle temporal, and inferior/middle frontal cortices. Lower gamma coherence between left angular and left superior frontal, right inferior/middle frontal, and right precuneus and between right angular and inferior/middle frontal cortices was related to lower social/social-communication functioning. Results suggest a pattern of lower gamma band coherence in a subset of regions within the DMN in ASD

Autism Research