Integration of EEG Into Psychiatric Practice: A Step Toward Precision Medicine for Autism Spectrum Disorder : Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology

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Integration of EEG Into Psychiatric Practice: A Step Toward Precision Medicine for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Swatzyna, Ronald J.*; Tarnow, Jay D.*; Turner, Robert P.; Roark, Alexandra J.*; MacInerney, Erin K.*; Kozlowski, Gerald P.

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Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology 34(3):p 230-235, May 2017. | DOI: 10.1097/WNP.0000000000000365



Data from an EEG is not commonly used by psychiatrists to plan treatment and medication. However, EEG abnormalities such as isolated epileptiform discharges are found to be more prevalent in psychiatric patients, particularly those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Most medications prescribed for ASD lower seizure threshold and increase side effects. Therefore, it may be prudent to order an EEG for ASD cases, especially those categorized as refractory.


The data set was obtained from a multidisciplinary practice that treats a wide variety of neuroatypical children and adolescent refractory patients. This study investigated 140 nonepileptic subjects diagnosed with ASD, aged 4 to 25 years. Visual inspection of the EEG was performed to search for paroxysmal, focal, or lateralizing patterns.


Of the 140 subjects, the EEG data identified 36% with isolated epileptiform discharges. The χ2 analysis found no significant difference between genders among the three age groups. Findings indicated a high prevalence of isolated epileptiform discharges among individuals with ASD.


Our results find that compared with the healthy population, a large number of patients with ASD have isolated epileptiform discharges despite never having a seizure. Our findings support the use of EEG in children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD, regardless of gender or age. This is particularly true for those who exhibit aggressive behaviors or those who have failed previous medication attempts with stimulants, antidepressants, and/or antipsychotics.

Copyright © 2016 by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society

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