Publications of Spratling, M.W.

Disordered visual processing and oscillatory brain activity in autism and Williams Syndrome

Two developmental disorders, autism and Williams syndrome, are both commonly described as having difficulties in integrating perceptual features, i.e. binding spatially separate elements into a whole. It is already known that healthy adults and infants display electroencephalographic (EEG) gamma -band bursts (around 40 Hz) when the brain is required to achieve such binding. Here we explore gamma -band EEG in autism and Williams Syndrome and demonstrate differential abnormalities in the two phenotypes. We show that despite putative processing similarities at the cognitive level, binding in Williams syndrome and autism can be dissociated at the neurophysiological level by different abnormalities in underlying brain oscillatory activity. Our study is the first to identify that binding-related gamma EEG can be disordered in humans. NeuroReport 12:2697-2700 (C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Gamma oscillations and object processing in the infant brain

An enduring controversy in neuroscience concerns how the brain "binds" together separately coded stimulus features to form unitary representations of objects. Recent evidence has indicated a close link between this binding process and 40-hertz (gamma-band) oscillations generated by localized neural circuits. In a separate line of research, the ability of young infants to perceive objects as unitary and bounded has become a central focus for debates about the mechanisms of perceptual development. Here we demonstrate that binding-related 40-hertz oscillations are evident in the infant brain around 8 months of age, which is the same age at which behavioral and event-related potential evidence indicates the onset of perceptual binding of spatially separated static visual features.