Inter-trial coherence of medial frontal theta oscillations linked to differential feedback processing in youth and young adults with autism

Academic Article


  • © 2017 Elsevier Ltd Background Impairment in prediction and appreciation for choice outcomes could contribute to several core symptoms of ASD. We examined electroencephalography (EEG) oscillations in 27 youth and young adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 22 IQ-matched neurotypical controls while they performed a chance-based reward prediction task. Method We re-analyzed our previously published ERP data (Larson et al., 2011) and examined theta band oscillations (4–8 Hz) at frontal midline sites, within a timing window that overlaps with the feedback-related negativity (FRN). We focused on event-related changes after presentation of feedback for reward (WIN) and punitive (LOSE) outcomes, both for spectral power and inter-trial phase coherence. Results In our reward prediction task, for both groups, medial frontal theta power and phase coherence were greater following LOSE compared to WIN feedback. However, compared to controls, inter-trial coherence of medial frontal theta was significantly lower overall (across both feedback types) for individuals with ASD. Our results indicate that while individuals with ASD are sensitive to the valence of reward feedback, comparable to their neurotypical peers, they have reduced synchronization of medial frontal theta activity during feedback processing. Conclusions This finding is consistent with previous studies showing neural variability in ASD and suggest that the processes underlying decision-making and reinforcement learning may be atypical and less efficient in ASD.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 19938120
  • Author List

  • van Noordt S; Wu J; Venkataraman A; Larson MJ; South M; Crowley MJ
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 10
  • Volume

  • 37