Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment: Focusing on Core Pathological Features of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, May 12, 2016: 10:55 AM
Room 307 (Baltimore Convention Center)
M. F. Casanova, Pediatrics and Biomedical Sciences, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville, SC
Background:  Recent evidence suggests the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be related to an increased ratio of cortical excitation to inhibition. Using specific parameters of stimulation, rTMS has been shown to increase cortical inhibition by selectively activating interneurons.

Objectives: In a number of investigations, our group evaluated the effects of rTMS on indices of selective attention and executive functioning, as well as measures of social awareness, hyperactivity, irritability, and repetitive/stereotyped behavior.

Methods: Subjects with ASD were assessed at baseline and following rTMS with electroencephalographic (EEG) and event-related potential (ERP) measures of selective attention and executive functioning. Subjects were also assessed for ASD symptomatology using neuropsychological questionnaires.

Results: Our preliminary findings in experimental studies using 6-, 12, or 18 session-long, low frequency rTMS courses in children (age<18 years) with ASD indicate significant improvement in EEG and ERP measures of selective attention and executive functioning, and also showed significant improvement in measures of irritability and repetitive/stereotyped behavior. 

Conclusions: rTMS has the potential to become an important therapeutic tool in research and treatment and may play an important role in improving the quality of life for many individuals with ASD.