How Useful Is Electroencephalography in the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Delineation of Subtypes: A Systematic Review.
Gurau O., Bosl WJ., Newton CR.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to be associated with abnormal neural connectivity. Presently, neural connectivity is a theoretical construct that cannot be easily measured. Research in network science and time series analysis suggests that neural network structure, a marker of neural activity, can be measured with electroencephalography (EEG). EEG can be quantified by different methods of analysis to potentially detect brain abnormalities. The aim of this review is to examine evidence for the utility of three methods of EEG signal analysis in the ASD diagnosis and subtype delineation. We conducted a review of literature in which 40 studies were identified and classified according to the principal method of EEG analysis in three categories: functional connectivity analysis, spectral power analysis, and information dynamics. All studies identified significant differences between ASD patients and non-ASD subjects. However, due to high heterogeneity in the results, generalizations could not be inferred and none of the methods alone are currently useful as a new diagnostic tool. The lack of studies prevented the analysis of these methods as tools for ASD subtypes delineation. These results confirm EEG abnormalities in ASD, but as yet not sufficient to help in the diagnosis. Future research with larger samples and more robust study designs could allow for higher sensitivity and consistency in characterizing ASD, paving the way for developing new means of diagnosis.