This research was supported by NIMH NRSA Grant F32-MH72207 to the first author, and NIMH Grant R21-MH067446, a grant from the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, and a grant from Autism Speaks to the last author. We wish to thank Marika Wrzosek, Wendy Padilla, and Katherine Marczyk for assistance in collecting data, and we thank the families that participated in this study for contributing their time.
Electroencephalogram and Heart Rate Regulation to Familiar and Unfamiliar People in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Article first published online: 15 JUL 2009
© 2009, Copyright the Author(s). Journal Compilation © 2009, Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 80, Issue 4, pages 1118–1133, July/August 2009
How to Cite
Van Hecke, A. V., Lebow, J., Bal, E., Lamb, D., Harden, E., Kramer, A., Denver, J., Bazhenova, O. and Porges, S. W. (2009), Electroencephalogram and Heart Rate Regulation to Familiar and Unfamiliar People in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Child Development, 80: 1118–1133. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01320.x
- Issue published online: 15 JUL 2009
- Article first published online: 15 JUL 2009
Few studies have examined whether familiarity of partner affects social responses in children with autism. This study investigated heart rate regulation (respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA]: The myelinated vagus nerve’s regulation of heart rate) and temporal–parietal electroencephalogram (EEG) activity while nineteen 8- to 12-year-old children with autism and 14 controls viewed videos of a familiar and an unfamiliar person reading a story. Children with autism had lower overall RSA levels and exhibited decreased RSA to the unfamiliar person, versus control children. Both groups decreased temporal–parietal EEG activity to the unfamiliar person. Higher RSA was related to higher social skill ratings and fewer problem behaviors. Thus, the social difficulties of children with autism may be characterized by specific mobilization to unfamiliar people.