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Mol Autism. 2019 Aug 15;10:34. doi: 10.1186/s13229-019-0283-3. eCollection 2019.

Delayed M50/M100 evoked response component latency in minimally verbal/nonverbal children who have autism spectrum disorder.

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1Lurie Family Foundations MEG Imaging Center, Department of Radiology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 3401 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA.
2Center for Autism Research, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA USA.
3Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA USA.


Abnormal auditory neuromagnetic M50 and M100 responses, reflecting primary/secondary auditory cortex processing, have been reported in children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some studies have reported an association between delays in these responses and language impairment. However, as most prior research has focused on verbal individuals with ASD without cognitive impairment, rather little is known about neural activity during auditory processing in minimally verbal or nonverbal children who have ASD (ASD-MVNV)-children with little or no speech and often significant cognitive impairment. To understand the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying auditory processing in ASD-MVNV children, magnetoencephalography (MEG) measured M50 and M100 responses arising from left and right superior temporal gyri during tone stimuli in three cohorts: (1) MVNV children who have ASD (ASD-MVNV), (2) verbal children who have ASD and no intellectual disability (ASD-V), and (3) typically developing (TD) children. One hundred and five participants (8-12 years) were included in the final analyses (ASD-MVNV: n = 16, 9.85 ± 1.32 years; ASD-V: n = 55, 10.64 ± 1.31 years; TD: n = 34, 10.18 ± 1.36 years). ASD-MVNV children showed significantly delayed M50 and M100 latencies compared to TD. These delays tended to be greater than the corresponding delays in verbal children with ASD. Across cohorts, delayed latencies were associated with language and communication skills, assessed by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale Communication Domain. Findings suggest that auditory cortex neural activity measures could be dimensional objective indices of language impairment in ASD for either diagnostic (e.g., via threshold or cutoff) or prognostic (considering the continuous variable) use.


Auditory cortex; Autism spectrum disorder; M50/M100 responses and language impairment; Magnetoencephalography; Minimally verbal/non-verbal children; Nonverbal

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsDr. Roberts declares consulting/advisory board relationships with Prism Clinical Imaging, CTF, Ricoh, Spago Nanomedical and Avexis. Additionally, he and Dr. Edgar disclose intellectual property related to MEG as a biomarker for pharmaceutical therapy, under license to MEGIN. All other authors declare no competing interests.

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