Sensory and Connectivity Abnormalities in Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • End date
    Jun 25, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Massachusetts General Hospital
Updated on 25 January 2021
Alyssa Orinstein
Primary Contact
Martinos Center or Biomedical Imaging (5.1 mi away) Contact
language disorder
pervasive developmental disorder


Study the neural substrates of autism spectrum disorders using neuroimaging methods such as MEG/EEG/MRI.


(NOTE: we are currently recruiting individuals between the ages of 14 and 32, either typically developing or with an autism spectrum disorder.)

To study how sensory information is processed by the brain, we primarily use an instrument called MEG (MagnetoEncephaloGraphy), which measures the magnetic brainwaves emitted by our brains. The device does not have any output (i.e., there is no magnetic field); it only measures the waves produced in the brain.

We measure those waves as the participants in the study listen to, view, or otherwise experience simple, non painful, stimuli. For instance, participants may listen to words while sitting in the MEG room, and watching a movie with the sound turned off.

We then combine this information with pictures of the brain from MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging - when available), to get an idea about both the anatomy and the function of the brain, so that we can study how the brains of populations with autism spectrum disorders or language disorders may be different from those of typically developing populations.

Condition Pervasive developmental disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, autism spectrum disorders
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT00956579
SponsorMassachusetts General Hospital
Last Modified on25 January 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

All of the following criteria must be met by all participants
The participant or the participant's legal guardian is able to understand and is willing to comply with the requirements of the study
The participant meets the age requirements (14-32 years old)
The participant or legal guardian has signed an Informed Consent Form specific to this study, and is able to understand the consent form
The participant must have English as their first language
The participant must have a non-verbal IQ > 70
For the ASD/language disorder group only
Autism Spectrum Disorder: Participants must meet criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder on the ADOS

Exclusion Criteria

The following exclusion criteria apply to both control and autism groups
Any volunteer for whom informed consent cannot be obtained
Volunteers with metal braces, extensive dental work involving metals, implanted electromagnetically activated medical equipment (cardiac pacemakers, neurostimulators, functioning infusion pumps), all of which would interfere with the MEG signal, will be excluded from the MEG portion of the study
Volunteers with any medically diagnosed sensory loss
Volunteers with a known genetic disorder (e.g. Tourette's syndrome, etc), or other medical condition affecting the brain, such as progressive encephalopathy as well as those who are on high doses of multiple anti-seizure medications and have frequent, uncontrolled seizures
Asphyxia at birth or any other time, premature birth (Fewer than 34 weeks gestation)
For the control group only
Volunteers diagnosed with a mental condition such as depression, anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder (with or without hyperactivity)
Volunteers who score below the autism spectrum cut-off (in the normal range) on the ADOS and SCQ
Volunteers on any sort of neuro-psychopharmacological treatment (including antidepressants, stimulants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines)
For the autism group only
Children or adults not meeting criteria for autism spectrum disorder
Volunteers with co-morbid disorders such as tuberous sclerosis or fragile X
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