Disordered visual processing and oscillatory brain activity in autism and Williams Syndrome

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Two developmental disorders, autism and Williams syndrome, are both commonly described as having difficulties in integrating perceptual features, i.e. binding spatially separate elements into a whole. It is already known that healthy adults and infants display electroencephalographic (EEG) γ-band bursts (around 40 Hz) when the brain is required to achieve such binding. Here we explore γ-band EEG in autism and Williams Syndrome and demonstrate differential abnormalities in the two phenotypes. We show that despite putative processing similarities at the cognitive level, binding in Williams syndrome and autism can be dissociated at the neurophysiological level by different abnormalities in underlying brain oscillatory activity. Our study is the first to identify that binding-related γ EEG can be disordered in humans.

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