Early patterns of functional brain development associated with autism spectrum disorder in tuberous sclerosis complex

Abigail Dickinson, Kandice J. Varcin, Mustafa Sahin, Charles A. Nelson, Shafali S. Jeste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare genetic disorder that confers a high risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), with behavioral predictors of ASD emerging early in life. Deviations in structural and functional neural connectivity are highly implicated in both TSC and ASD. For the first time, we explore whether electroencephalographic (EEG) measures of neural network function precede or predict the emergence of ASD in TSC. We determine whether altered brain function (a) is present in infancy in TSC, (b) differentiates infants with TSC based on ASD diagnostic status, and (c) is associated with later cognitive function. We studied 35 infants with TSC (N = 35), and a group of typically developing infants (N = 20) at 12 and 24 months of age. Infants with TSC were later subdivided into ASD and non-ASD groups based on clinical evaluation. We measured features of spontaneous alpha oscillations (6–12 Hz) that are closely associated with neural network development: alpha power, alpha phase coherence (APC), and peak alpha frequency (PAF). Infants with TSC demonstrated reduced interhemispheric APC compared to controls at 12 months of age, and these differences were found to be most pronounced at 24 months in the infants who later developed ASD. Across all infants, PAF at 24 months was associated with verbal and nonverbal cognition at 36 months. Associations between early network function and later neurodevelopmental and cognitive outcomes highlight the potential utility of early scalable EEG markers to identify infants with TSC requiring additional targeted intervention initiated very early in life. Autism Res 2019, 00: 1–16.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1758-1773
Number of pages16
JournalAutism Research
Issue number12
Early online date16 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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