Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 495-510

First online:

Event Related Potentials in the Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Analytical Review

  • Shafali S. JesteAffiliated withChildren’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School Email author 
  • , Charles A. NelsonIIIAffiliated withChildren’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School

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In this paper we critically review the literature on the use of event related potentials (ERPs) to elucidate the neural sources of the core deficits in autism. We review auditory and visual ERP studies, and then review the use of ERPs in the investigation of executive function. We conclude that, in autism, impairments likely exist in both low and higher level auditory and visual processing, with prominent impairments in the processing of social stimuli. We also discuss the putative neural circuitry underlying these deficits. As we look to the future, we posit that tremendous insight can be gained by applying ERPs to the definition of endophenotypes, which, in turn, can facilitate early diagnosis and the creation of informed interventions for children with autism.


Event related potential (ERP) Autism Auditory processing Visual processing