Neonatal EEG linked to individual differences in socioemotional outcomes and autism risk in toddlers

Dev Psychobiol. 2019 Dec;61(8):1110-1119. doi: 10.1002/dev.21870. Epub 2019 Jun 11.


Research using electroencephalography (EEG) as a measure of brain function and maturation has demonstrated links between cortical activity and cognitive processes during infancy and early childhood. The current study examines whether neonatal EEG is correlated with later atypical socioemotional behaviors or neurocognitive delays. Parental report developmental assessments were administered to families with children ages 24 to 36 months who had previously participated in a neonatal EEG study (N = 129). Significant associations were found between neonatal EEG (higher frequencies in the frontal polar, temporal, and parietal brain regions) and BITSEA ASD risk scores. Infants with lower EEG power in these brain areas were more likely to have higher risk of socioemotional problems. When examining sex differences, significant links were found for males but not for females. These results demonstrate some promising associations between early neural biomarkers and later risk for atypical behaviors, which may shape early neurobehavioral development and could lead to earlier identification and intervention.

Keywords: BITSEA; EEG; autism risk; brain activity; cognition; socioemotional development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Skills*


  • Biomarkers