EEG Analytics for Early Detection of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A data-driven approach
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex and heterogeneous disorder, diagnosed on the basis of behavioral symptoms during the second year of life or later. Finding scalable biomarkers for early detection is challenging because of the variability in presentation of the disorder and the need for simple measurements that could be implemented routinely during well-baby checkups. EEG is a relatively easy-to-use, low cost brain measurement tool that is being increasingly explored as a potential clinical tool for monitoring atypical brain development. EEG measurements were collected from 99 infants with an older sibling diagnosed with ASD, and 89 low risk controls, beginning at 3 months of age and continuing until 36 months of age. Nonlinear features were computed from EEG signals and used as input to statistical learning methods. Prediction of the clinical diagnostic outcome of ASD or not ASD was highly accurate when using EEG measurements from as early as 3 months of age. Specificity, sensitivity and PPV were high, exceeding 95% at some ages. Prediction of ADOS calibrated severity scores for all infants in the study using only EEG data taken as early as 3 months of age was strongly correlated with the actual measured scores. This suggests that useful digital biomarkers might be extracted from EEG measurements.