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Gamma activation in young people with autism spectrum disorders and typically-developing controls when viewing emotions on faces.

Wright, B. and Alderson-Day, B. and Prendergast, G. and Bennett, S. and Jordan, J. and Whitton, C. and Gouws, A. and Jones, N. and Attur, R. and Tomlinson, H. and Green, G. (2012) 'Gamma activation in young people with autism spectrum disorders and typically-developing controls when viewing emotions on faces.', PLoS ONE., 7 (7). e41326.


Background: Behavioural studies have highlighted irregularities in recognition of facial affect in children and young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Recent findings from studies utilising electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) have identified abnormal activation and irregular maintenance of gamma (.30 Hz) range oscillations when ASD individuals attempt basic visual and auditory tasks. Methodology/Principal Fndings: The pilot study reported here is the first study to use spatial filtering techniques in MEG to explore face processing in children with ASD. We set out to examine theoretical suggestions that gamma activation underlying face processing may be different in a group of children and young people with ASD (n = 13) compared to typically developing (TD) age, gender and IQ matched controls. Beamforming and virtual electrode techniques were used to assess spatially localised induced and evoked activity. While lower-band (3–30 Hz) responses to faces were similar between groups, the ASD gamma response in occipital areas was observed to be largely absent when viewing emotions on faces. Virtual electrode analysis indicated the presence of intact evoked responses but abnormal induced activity in ASD participants. Conclusions/Significance: These findings lend weight to previous suggestions that specific components of the early visual response to emotional faces is abnormal in ASD. Elucidation of the nature and specificity of these findings is worthy of further research.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© Wright et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:20 June 2012
Date deposited:09 September 2015
Date of first online publication:July 2012
Date first made open access:No date available

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