EEG Abnormalities as a Neurophysiological Biomarker of Severity in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Cohort Study

  • Antonio Gennaro NicoteraEmail author
  • Randi Jenssen Hagerman
  • Maria Vincenza Catania
  • Serafino Buono
  • Santo Di Nuovo
  • Elisa Maria Liprino
  • Emanuela Stracuzzi
  • Stefania Giusto
  • Giuseppina Di Vita
  • Sebastiano Antonino Musumeci
Original Paper


To date, the phenotypic significance of EEG abnormalities in patients with ASD is unclear. In a population affected by ASD we aimed to evaluate: the phenotypic characteristics; the prevalence of EEG abnormalities; the potential correlations between EEG abnormalities and behavioral and cognitive variables. Sixty-nine patients with ASD underwent cognitive or developmental testing, language assessment, and adaptive behavior skills evaluation as well as sleep/wake EEG recording. EEG abnormalities were found in 39.13% of patients. EEG abnormalities correlated with autism severity, hyperactivity, anger outbursts, aggression, negative or destructive behavior, motor stereotypies, intellectual disability, language impairment and self-harm. Our findings confirmed that EEG abnormalities are present in the ASD population and correlate with several associated phenotypic features.


Autism spectrum disorder Biomarker Epileptiform abnormalities Hyperactivity Phenotype 


Author Contributions

AGN and SAM conceived and planned the study. AGN wrote the manuscript. SAM and RJH supervised the project. SDN was involved in statistical analyses. AGN, MVC and SAM contributed to interpretation data. SB, ES, SG, GDV, and EML contributed to acquisition data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research did not receive any specific Grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector. The authors have no financial relationship relevant to this article to disclose.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Gennaro Nicotera
    • 1
    Email author
  • Randi Jenssen Hagerman
    • 2
  • Maria Vincenza Catania
    • 3
    • 4
  • Serafino Buono
    • 5
  • Santo Di Nuovo
    • 6
  • Elisa Maria Liprino
    • 1
  • Emanuela Stracuzzi
    • 1
  • Stefania Giusto
    • 1
  • Giuseppina Di Vita
    • 1
  • Sebastiano Antonino Musumeci
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of NeurologyOasi Research Institute - IRCCSTroinaItaly
  2. 2.MIND Institute and Department of PediatricsUniversity of California Davis Medical CenterSacramento, CAUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Neurological SciencesThe National Research Council of Italy (CNR)CataniaItaly
  4. 4.Oasi Research Institute - IRCCSTroinaItaly
  5. 5.Unit of PsychologyOasi Research Institute - IRCCSTroinaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Educational SciencesUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly

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