Theta oscillations (spectral power and connectivity) are sensitive to the social content of an experience in typically developing infants, providing a possible marker of early social brain development. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition affecting early social behaviour, but links to underlying social brain function remain unclear. We explored whether modulations of theta spectral power and connectivity by naturalistic social content in infancy are related to family history for autism. Fourteen-month-old infants with (family history; FH; N = 75) and without (no family history; NFH; N = 26) a first-degree relative with autism watched social and non-social videos during EEG recording. We calculated theta (4–5 Hz) spectral power and connectivity modulations (social–non-social) and associated them with outcomes at 36 months. We replicated previous findings of increased theta power and connectivity during social compared to non-social videos. Theta modulations with social content were similar between groups, for both power and connectivity. Together, these findings suggest that neural responses to naturalistic social stimuli may not be strongly altered in 14-month-old infants with family history of autism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20758
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the European Community’s Horizon 2020 Program under grant agreement n° 642990 (Brainview)(RH, TC, MJ, EJ: analysis, interpretation of the data, and writing the manuscript), and the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF2), grant ref 204770/Z/16/Z (RH: analysis, interpretation of the data, and writing the manuscript); the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n° 115300, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007 - 2013) and EFPIA companies' in kind contribution (TC, GP, EJ, MJ: design of the study and data collection); and the UK Medical Research Council (G0701484 & MR/K021389/1), and the BASIS funding consortium led by Autistica ( www.basisnetwork.org ) (TC, GP, MJ, EJ, TBT: design of the study and data collection). The results leading to this publication have received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 777394 for the project AIMS-2-TRIALS. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA and AUTISM SPEAKS, Autistica, SFARI (RH, TC, GP, MJ, EJ: analysis, interpretation of the data, and writing the manuscript). IMI disclaimer: The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results. Any views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the funders. We would like to thank all the families participating in the BASIS study. The EEG task was designed by M. Elsabbagh, and M.H. Johnson in collaboration with M. Murias, S.J. Webb and G. Dawson. In addition, we would like to thank E. Orekhova for the preprocessing of part of the data, E. Parr for her help with coding the EEG videos, and B. van der Velde and C. Stamate for discussions during the analysis process.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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