Ringing Decay of Gamma Oscillations and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy in Autism Spectrum Disorder


Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback. 46(2):161-173, 2021 06.

Casanova MF; Shaban M; Ghazal M; El-Baz AS; Casanova EL; Sokhadze EM

Research suggest that in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) a disturbance in the coordinated interactions of neurons within local networks gives rise to abnormal patterns of brainwave activity in the gamma bandwidth. Low frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has been proven to normalize gamma oscillation abnormalities, executive functions, and repetitive behaviors in high functioning ASD individuals. In this study, gamma frequency oscillations in response to a visual classification task (Kanizsa figures) were analyzed and compared in 19 ASD (ADI-R diagnosed, 14.2 +/- 3.61 years old, 5 girls) and 19 (14.8 +/- 3.67 years old, 5 girls) age/gender matched neurotypical individuals. The ASD group was treated with low frequency TMS (1.0 Hz, 90% motor threshold, 18 weekly sessions) targeting the DLPFC. In autistic subjects, as compared to neurotypicals, significant differences in event-related gamma oscillations were evident in amplitude (higher) pre-TMS. In addition, recordings after TMS treatment in our autistic subjects revealed a significant reduction in the time period to reach peak amplitude and an increase in the decay phase (settling time). The use of a novel metric for gamma oscillations. i.e., envelope analysis, and measurements of its ringing decay allowed us to characterize the impedance of the originating neuronal circuit. The ringing decay or dampening of gamma oscillations is dependent on the inhibitory tone generated by networks of interneurons. The results suggest that the ringing decay of gamma oscillations may provide a biomarker reflective of the excitatory/inhibitory balance of the cortex and a putative outcome measure for interventions in autism.