Impact Factor


Front. Hum. Neurosci., 05 August 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00442

On the application of quantitative EEG for characterizing autistic brain: a systematic review

  • 1Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Council of Research (CNR), Pisa, Italy
  • 2IRCCS Stella Maris Foundation, Pisa, Italy
  • 3Electronics and Computer Science, Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Developmental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

Autism-Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are thought to be associated with abnormalities in neural connectivity at both the global and local levels. Quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) is a non-invasive technique that allows a highly precise measurement of brain function and connectivity. This review encompasses the key findings of QEEG application in subjects with ASD, in order to assess the relevance of this approach in characterizing brain function and clustering phenotypes. QEEG studies evaluating both the spontaneous brain activity and brain signals under controlled experimental stimuli were examined. Despite conflicting results, literature analysis suggests that QEEG features are sensitive to modification in neuronal regulation dysfunction which characterize autistic brain. QEEG may therefore help in detecting regions of altered brain function and connectivity abnormalities, in linking behavior with brain activity, and subgrouping affected individuals within the wide heterogeneity of ASD. The use of advanced techniques for the increase of the specificity and of spatial localization could allow finding distinctive patterns of QEEG abnormalities in ASD subjects, paving the way for the development of tailored intervention strategies.

Keywords: autism-spectrum disorder, quantitative electroencephalography, coherence, asymmetry, non-linear techniques

Citation: Billeci L, Sicca F, Maharatna K, Apicella F, Narzisi A, Campatelli G, Calderoni S, Pioggia G and Muratori F (2013) On the application of quantitative EEG for characterizing autistic brain: a systematic review. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:442. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00442

Received: 12 March 2013; Accepted: 18 July 2013;
Published online: 05 August 2013.

Edited by:

Andrew Whitehouse, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Australia; The University of Western Australia, Australia

Reviewed by:

Shozo Tobimatsu, Kyushu University, Japan
David Steven Cantor, Psychological Sciences Institute, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Billeci, Sicca, Maharatna, Apicella, Narzisi, Campatelli, Calderoni, Pioggia and Muratori. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Lucia Billeci, Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Council of Research (CNR), Via Moruzzi 1, Pisa 56124, Italy e-mail: lucia.billeci@ifc.cnr.it