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The Early Start Denver Model Intervention and Mu Rhythm Attenuation in Autism Spectrum Disorders


We examined the relationship between the Early start Denver model (ESDM) intervention and mu rhythm attenuation, an EEG paradigm reflecting neural processes associated with action perception and social information processing. Children were assigned to either receive comprehensive ESDM intervention for two years, or were encouraged to pursue resources in the community. Two years after intervention, EEG was collected during the execution and observation of grasping actions performed by familiar and unfamiliar agents. The ESDM group showed significantly greater attenuation when viewing a parent or caregiver executing a grasping action, compared with an unfamiliar individual executing the same action. Our findings suggest that the ESDM may have a unique impact on neural circuitry underlying social cognition and familiarity.

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We are grateful for the many families that that gave of their time to participate in this study and the many faculty, staff, and students that supported this research at the University of Washington Autism Center.


This work was supported by grants from the Simons Foundation (SFARI #89638), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U19HD34565, P50HD066782, R01HD-55741), and the National Institute of Mental Health (U54MH066399).

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Programming, data collection, and data analysis were performed by BA with supervision from RB. The first draft of the manuscript was written by BA with supervision from RB, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Benjamin Aaronson.

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Dr. Aaronson, Dr. Estes, and Dr. Bernier declare no competing interests. Dr. Dawson and Dr. Rogers are authors of The Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism from which they receive royalties from Guilford Press. Dr. Dawson is on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Janssen Research and Development, Akili, Inc., Roche Pharmaceutical Company, and LabCorp, and has received grant funding from Janssen Research and Development, LLC, and PerkinElmer, speaker fees from ViaCord, and receives royalties from Oxford University Press.

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Aaronson, B., Estes, A., Rogers, S.J. et al. The Early Start Denver Model Intervention and Mu Rhythm Attenuation in Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 52, 3304–3313 (2022).

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  • Mu rhythm
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Early start denver model
  • EEG