Tests that measure the electrical activity in the brain can distinguish children with autism from children with typical brains as early as age 2, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have found.
Researchers compared raw data from the electroencephalogram tests, or EEGs, of 430 children with autism and 554 other children ages 2 to 12. They found that children with autism had consistent EEG patterns showing altered connectivity between different parts of the brain—generally, they showed reduced connectivity compared with the other children’s brains. Their study was published this week in the online journal BMC Medicine.
This altered connectivity stood out in the left side of the brain, which controls language. Researchers focused on children with autism who had been referred for EEGs by neurologists, psychiatrists, or developmental pediatricians to rule out seizure disorders. Children diagnosed with seizure disorders, those with Asperger syndrome and other high-functioning children with autism were excluded from the study.