Abnormal spatial frequency processing in high-functioning children with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)

M.A. Boeschoten*, J.L. Kenemans, H. van Engeland, C. Kemner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Basic abnormalities in visual information processing could be associated with the local visual bias often found in subjects with PDD. Therefore, the present study investigated the existence of deficits in spatial frequency processing at an early sensory level in children with PDD. Methods: Visual evoked potentials (VEPs) and VEP dipole sources elicited by high and low spatial frequency gratings were analyzed in high-functioning children with PDD and matched controls. Results: Around 80 ms (N80-latency) children with PDD did not show the same robust differences between high and low spatial frequencies in VEP amplitude and VEP brain sources as controls, because of atypical processing of high frequencies. Analyses at the P1-latency (130 ms) revealed that, although similar inferior-medial brain sources were activated for the processing of both spatial frequencies in the PDD and control group, source strength in response to both frequencies was weaker in the PDD compared to control group. Moreover, additional superior-lateral brain sources were activated during the processing of both frequencies in the PDD group. Conclusions: Decreased specialized processing of high and low spatial frequencies might be a robust characteristic of PDD, Early in processing abnormalities in high spatial frequency processing seem to occur in PDD. At a later phase in processing there seems to be both atypical high and low spatial frequency processing. Considering that the processing of specific spatial frequencies plays an important role in the processing of global and local aspects of hierarchical stimuli and faces and of emotions, present data suggest that peculiarities in PDD subjects with respect to these stimuli might be related to an abnormality in more fundamental visual processes. Significance: A basic abnormality in visual frequency processing is established in children with PDD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2076-2088
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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