Single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation-electroencephalogram reveals no electrophysiological abnormality in adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

Melissa Kirkovski, Nigel C. Rogasch, Takashi Saeki, Bernadette Fitzgibbon, Peter Enticott, Paul Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Neuroimaging and electrophysiological research have revealed a range of neural abnormalities in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but a comprehensive understanding remains elusive. We utilized a novel methodology among individuals with ASD and matched controls, combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with concurrent electroencephalogram (EEG) recording (TMS-EEG) to explore cortical function and connectivity in three sites implicated in the neuropathophysiology of ASD (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, primary motor cortex, and temporoparietal junction). As there is evidence for neurobiological gender differences in ASD, we also examined the influence of biological sex. 

Methods: TMS pulses were applied to each of the three sites (right lateralized) during 20-channel EEG recording. Results: We did not identify any differences in the EEG response to TMS between ASD and control groups. This finding remained when data were stratified by sex. Nevertheless, traits and characteristics associated with ASD were correlated with the neurophysiological response to TMS. 

Conclusion: While TMS-EEG did not appear to clarify the neuropathophysiology of ASD, the relationships identified between the neurophysiological response to TMS and clinical characteristics warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-616
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

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