Induced EEG Gamma Oscillation Alignment Improves Differentiation Between Autism and ADHD Group Responses in a Facial Categorization Task

Eric Gross, Ayman S. El-Baz, Guela E. Sokhadze, Lonnie Sears, Manuel F. Casanova, Estate M. Sokhadze


Children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often lack the ability to recognize and properly respond to emotional stimuli. Emotional deficits also characterize children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in addition to exhibiting limited attention span. These abnormalities may effect a difference in the induced EEG gamma wave burst (35–45 Hz) peaked approximately 300–400 ms following an emotional stimulus. Because induced gamma oscillations are not fixed at a definite point in time poststimulus, analysis of averaged EEG data with traditional methods may result in an attenuated gamma burst power. We used a data alignment technique to improve the averaged data, making it a better representation of the individual induced in EEG gamma oscillations. A study was designed to test the response of a subject to emotional stimuli, presented in the form of emotional facial expression images. In a four-part  experiment, the subjects were instructed to identify gender in the first two blocks of the test, followed by differentiating between basic emotions in the final two blocks (i.e., anger vs. disgust). EEG data were collected from ASD (n=10), ADHD (n=9), and control (n=11) subjects via a 128-channel EGI system, and processed through a continuous wavelet transform and bandpass filter to isolate the gamma frequencies. A custom MATLAB code was used to align the data from individual trials between 200 and 600 ms poststimulus, EEG site, and condition by maximizing the Pearson product–moment correlation coefficient between trials. The gamma power for the 400-ms window of maximum induced gamma burst was then calculated and compared between subject groups. Condition (anger/disgust recognition, gender recognition) AlignmentGroup (ADHD, ASD, Controls) interaction was significant at most of parietal topographies (e.g., P3-P4, P7-P8). These interactions were better manifested in the aligned data set. Our results show that alignment of the induced gamma oscillations improves sensitivity of this measure in differentiation of EEG responses to emotional facial stimuli in ADHD and ASD.

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