This experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that perceptual abnormalities in autism might be associated with alteration of induced gamma activity patterns overlying visual cortical regions. EEG was recorded from six adolescents with autism and eight controls matched on chronological age, and verbal and nonverbal mental age, whilst identifying the presence or absence of an illusory Kanizsa shape. Although there were no reaction time or accuracy differences between the groups there were significant task-related differences in cortical activity. Control participants showed typical gamma-band activity over parietal regions at around 350 msec post onset of shape trials, similar to gamma patterns found in previous studies with non-impaired adults. In contrast, autistic participants showed overall increased activity, including an early 100 msec gamma peak and a late induced peak, 50 to 70 msec earlier than that shown by the control group. We interpret the abnormal gamma activity to reflect decreased "signal to noise" due to decreased inhibitory processing. In this experiment we did not establish a link between altered perception and abnormal gamma, as the autistic participants' behaviour did not differ from the controls. Future work should be designed to replicate this phenomenon and establish the perceptual consequences of altered gamma activity.
- 40 Hz
- gamma EEG