Prospective MEG biomarkers in ASD: pre-clinical evidence and clinical promise of electrophysiological signatures

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by social impairments and restricted/stereotyped behaviors and currently affect an estimated 1 in 68 children aged 8 years old. While there has been substantial recent focus on ASD in research, both the biological pathology and, perhaps consequently, a fully effective treatment have yet to be realized. What has remained throughout is the hypothesis that ASD has neurobiological underpinnings and the observation that both the phenotypic expression and likely the underlying etiology is highly heterogeneous. Given the neurodevelopmental basis of ASD, a biologically based marker (biomarker) could prove useful not only for diagnostic and prognostic purposes, but also for stratification and response indices for pharmaceutical development. In this review, we examine the current state of the field for MEG-related biomarkers in ASD. We describe several potential biomarkers (middle latency delays [M50/M100], mismatch negativity latency, gamma-band oscillatory activity), and investigate their relation to symptomology, core domains of dysfunction (e.g., language impairment), and putative biological underpinnings.

Keywords: ASD; Gamma; MEG; biomarker; latency delay; signature; translational.