Using quantitative and analytic EEG methods in the understanding of connectivity in autism spectrum disorder: a theory of mixed over-and under connectivity

Robert Coben1,2*, Iman Mohammad-Rezazadeh3,4 and Rex L. Cannon5

1Neurorehabilitation and Neuropsychological Services, Massapequa Park, NY, USA
2Integrated Neuroscience Services, Fayetteville, AR, USA
3Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
4Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
5Psychoeducational Network, Knoxville, TN, USA

Neuroimaging technologies and research has shown that autism is largely a disorder of neuronal connectivity. While advanced work is being done with fMRI, MRI-DTI, SPECT and other forms of structural and functional connectivity analyses, the use of EEG for these purposes is of additional great utility. Cantor et al. (1986) were the first to examine the utility of pairwise coherence measures for depicting connectivity impairments in autism. Since that time research has shown a combination of mixed over and under-connectivity that is at the heart of the primary symptoms of this multifaceted disorder. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that these simplistic pairwise measurements under represent the true and quite complicated picture of connectivity anomalies in these persons. We have presented three different forms of multivariate connectivity analysis with increasing levels of sophistication (including one based on principle components analysis, sLORETA source coherence, and Granger causality) to present a hypothesis that more advanced statistical approaches to EEG coherence analysis may provide more detailed and accurate information than pairwise measurements. A single case study is examined with findings from MR-DTI, pairwise and coherence and these three forms of multivariate coherence analysis. In this case pairwise coherences did not resemble structural connectivity, whereas multivariate measures did. The possible advantages and disadvantages of different techniques are discussed. Future work in this area will be important to determine the validity and utility of these techniques.

-Front. Hum. Neurosci., 26 February 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00045