Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Autism, eeg, functional connectivity



Many studies have reported that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with atypical structural and functional connectivity. However, we know relatively little about the development of these differences in infancy.


We used a high-density electroencephalogram (EEG) dataset pooled from two independent infant sibling cohorts, to characterize such neurodevelopmental deviations during the first years of life. EEG was recorded at 6 and 12 months of age in infants at typical (N = 92) or elevated likelihood for ASD (N = 90), determined by the presence of an older sibling with ASD. We computed the functional connectivity between cortical sources of EEG during video watching using the corrected imaginary part of phase-locking values.


Our main analysis found no significant association between functional connectivity and ASD, showing only significant effects for age, sex, age-sex interaction, and site. Given these null results, we performed an exploratory analysis and observed, at 12 months, a negative correlation between functional connectivity and ADOS calibrated severity scores for restrictive and repetitive behaviors (RRB).


The small sample of ASD participants inherent to sibling studies limits diagnostic group comparisons. Also, results from our secondary exploratory analysis should be considered only as potential relationships to further explore, given their increased vulnerability to false positives.


These results are inconclusive concerning an association between EEG functional connectivity and ASD in infancy. Exploratory analyses provided preliminary support for a relationship between RRB and functional connectivity specifically, but these preliminary observations need corroboration on larger samples.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

O’Reilly, C., Huberty, S., van Noordt, S., Desjardins, J., Wright, N., Scorah, J., Webb, S. J., Elsabbagh, M., Baron-Cohen, S., Bolton, P., Chandler, S., Charman, T., Fernandes, J., Garwood, H., Hudryx, K., Johnson, M. H., Tucker, L., Volein, A., & BASIS team. (2023). EEG functional connectivity in infants at elevated familial likelihood for autism spectrum disorder. Molecular Autism, 14(1), 37.