Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 425–443 | Cite as

Guidelines and Best Practices for Electrophysiological Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting in Autism

  • Sara Jane WebbEmail author
  • Raphael Bernier
  • Heather A. Henderson
  • Mark H. Johnson
  • Emily J. H. Jones
  • Matthew D. Lerner
  • James C. McPartland
  • Charles A. Nelson
  • Donald C. Rojas
  • Jeanne Townsend
  • Marissa Westerfield
Original Paper


The EEG reflects the activation of large populations of neurons that act in synchrony and propagate to the scalp surface. This activity reflects both the brain’s background electrical activity and when the brain is being challenged by a task. Despite strong theoretical and methodological arguments for the use of EEG in understanding the neural correlates of autism, the practice of collecting, processing and evaluating EEG data is complex. Scientists should take into consideration both the nature of development in autism given the life-long, pervasive course of the disorder and the disability of altered or atypical social, communicative, and motor behaviors, all of which require accommodations to traditional EEG environments and paradigms. This paper presents guidelines for the recording, analyzing, and interpreting of EEG data with participants with autism. The goal is to articulate a set of scientific standards as well as methodological considerations that will increase the general field’s understanding of EEG methods, provide support for collaborative projects, and contribute to the evaluation of results and conclusions.


EEG Electrophysiology ERP Event-related potentials MEG Magnetoencephalography Autism ASD Guidelines 



Support for the Special Interest Group for EEG/MEG in Autism was provided by the International Society for Autism Research. Support for writing was provided by the American Psychological Association (Lerner), American Psychological Foundation (Lerner); Association for Psychological Science (Lerner), Brain & Behavior Research Foundation/NARSAD (McPartland), Innovative Medicines Initiative resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind contribution (115300 Jones), Jefferson Scholars Foundation (Lerner), National Institutes of Health (K23MH086785 McPartland; P50HD055782 Webb; P50NS22343 Townsend; R01DC010290 Nelson; R01MH078829 Nelson; R01MH082820 Rojas; R21MH091309 McPartland & Bernier; R01MH10028 Webb, Nelson, Bernier, McPartland; R21MH096582 Townsend & Westerfield; R21/R33MH096967 Townsend & Westerfield), Simons Foundation (Bernier, Johnson, Nelson), and the UK Medical Research Council (G0701484 Johnson). A special thanks to all of the families and participants who join with us in physiological research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Jane Webb
    • 1
    Email author
  • Raphael Bernier
    • 1
  • Heather A. Henderson
    • 2
  • Mark H. Johnson
    • 3
  • Emily J. H. Jones
    • 3
  • Matthew D. Lerner
    • 4
  • James C. McPartland
    • 5
  • Charles A. Nelson
    • 6
    • 7
  • Donald C. Rojas
    • 8
  • Jeanne Townsend
    • 9
  • Marissa Westerfield
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Brain and Cognitive DevelopmentBirkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  5. 5.Yale Child Study CenterNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.Boston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  7. 7.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  8. 8.Departments of Psychiatry and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado DenverAuroraUSA
  9. 9.Department of NeurosciencesUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  10. 10.Institute for Neural ComputationUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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