Characterization of the Mu rhythm during the sleep of children with autism spectrum disorder level 1

Tania Karina García Vite, Fructuoso Ayala-Guerrero, Erik Leonardo Mateos-Salgado, Rodolfo Cebreros Paniagua



Introduction. Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction. The theory of mind (TM) links social deficiencies in ASD with a difficulty in representing the mental states of other people. The Mu rhythm (8-13Hz) has been studied as an expression of the possible neuronal basis of TM. In ASD, the physiological reactivity of the Mu rhythm to motor events is affected. During sleep, there are also phenomena related to sensorimotor processing.

Objective. To characterize the Mu rhythm in the sleep of children with level 1 ASD, ages six to 10, and compare it with control children paired by age and sex.

Method. Polysomnographic records for two consecutive nights. The record of the second night was analyzed visually (the first was considered habituation) to identify and select Mu rhythm segments throughout the night. The extracted segments were analyzed using the fast Fourier transform and subsequently with t tests on the data of C3 and C4.

Results. A significant difference was found in the power spectrums of C3 and C4t (1, 144) = 3.038, p = .003 and t (1, 144) = -2.301, p = .023, respectively.

Discussion and conclusion. The results of this study are consistent with the morphological and topographic characteristics found in studies conducted during wakefulness. The results suggest that the Mu rhythm is caused intrinsically, without external sensory stimulation, and that there is a difference in this generation in the population with ASD.


Autism; sleep; Mu rhythm; Asperger’s; quantitative; polysomnography

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