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Changes in Electroencephalogram Coherence in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder After a Social Skills Intervention. Autism Res 2021 Apr;14(4):787-803



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85099057052 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   4 Citations


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects social communication and behavior. There is consensus that neurological differences are present in ASD. Further, theories emphasize the mixture of hypo- and hyper-connectivity as a neuropathologies in ASD [O'Reilly, Lewis, & Elsabbagh, 2017]; however, there is a paucity of studies specifically testing neurological underpinnings as predictors of success on social skills interventions. This study examined functional neural connectivity (electroencephalogram [EEG], coherence) of adolescents with ASD before and after the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) intervention, using a randomized controlled trial of two groups: an Experimental ASD (EXP) Group and a Waitlist Control ASD (WL) Group. The study had two purposes. First, the study aimed to determine whether changes in EEG coherence differed for adolescents that received PEERS® versus those that did not receive PEERS®. Results revealed a significant increase in connectivity in the occipital left to temporal left pair for the EXP group after intervention. Second, the study aimed to determine if changes in EEG coherence related to changes in behavior, friendships, and social skills measured by questionnaires. At post-intervention, results indicated: (a) positive change in frontal right to parietal right coherence was linked to an increase in social skills scores; and (b) positive changes in occipital right to temporal right coherence and occipital left to parietal left coherence were linked to an increase in the total number of get-togethers. Results of this study support utilizing neurobehavioral domains as indicators of treatment outcome. Lay Summary: This study examined how well various areas of the brain communicate in adolescents with ASD before and after a social skills intervention. Results revealed increased connectivity in the adolescents that received the intervention. Secondly, the study aimed to determine if changes in connectivity of brain areas related to changes in behavior, friendships, and social skills. Results indicated that changes in connectivity were also linked to increased social skills. Autism Res 2021, 14: 787-803. © 2021 International Society for Autism Research and Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Author List

Haendel AD, Barrington A, Magnus B, Arias AA, McVey A, Pleiss S, Carson A, Vogt EM, Van Hecke AV


Amy Van Hecke PhD Professor in the Psychology department at Marquette University
Elisabeth M. Vogt PhD Assistant Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Autism Spectrum Disorder
Peer Group
Social Skills