Magnetoencephalography in the study of children with autism spectrum disorder

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Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that provides a measure of cortical neural activity on a millisecond timescale with high spatial resolution. MEG has been clinically applied to various neurological diseases, including epilepsy and cognitive dysfunction. In the past decade, MEG has also emerged as an important investigatory tool in neurodevelopmental studies. It is therefore an opportune time to review how MEG is able to contribute to the study of atypical brain development. We limit this review to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The relevant published work for children was accessed using PubMed on 5 January 2015. Case reports, case series, and papers on epilepsy were excluded. Owing to their accurate separation of brain activity in the right and left hemispheres and the higher accuracy of source localization, MEG studies have added new information related to auditory-evoked brain responses to findings from previous electroencephalography studies of children with ASD. In addition, evidence of atypical brain connectivity in children with ASD has accumulated over the past decade. MEG is well suited for the study of neural activity with high time resolution even in young children. Although further studies are still necessary, the detailed findings provided by neuroimaging methods may aid clinical diagnosis and even contribute to the refinement of diagnostic categories for neurodevelopmental disorders in the future.

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