Frontal Theta Differences in a High Autistic Traits Sample

Date

2023-03-19

Authors

Nazaroff, Anya

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Abstract

It is known that prefrontal cortex (PFC) differences exist in autistic people in comparison to their neurotypical counterparts. It has been proposed that these structural differences may be the cause of some objective differences seen when measuring electroencephalography (EEG). One such difference is identified when examining frequency bands, specifically the theta frequency band. However, there is a lack of consensus on whether this extends to self diagnosed populations. The present study aimed to examine differences in frontal theta oscillations in a high autistic traits sample in contrast to a low autistic traits control group using quantitative research methods. More specifically, it was hypothesized that elevated frontal theta activity would be found in high autistic traits participants, as measured by the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). We found a statistical difference between groups, with the high autistic traits group exhibiting greater frontal theta activity. These findings lend credibility to self-assessment tools, such as the AQ, as the same differences in EEG activity were found in a largely undiagnosed sample of participants. We speculate that while enhanced frontal theta oscillations may reflect processing differences, it is likely indicative of an increased number of neurons in the autistic PFC.

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Keywords

frontal theta, frequency, electroencephalography, EEG, autism

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