Measuring the Plasticity of Social Approach: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of the PEERS Intervention on EEG Asymmetry in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

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Van Hecke, Amy V.; Stevens, Sheryl Jayne; Carson, Audrey M.; Karst, Jeffrey S.; Dolan, Bridget; Schohl, Kirsten A.; McKindles, Ryan J.; Remmel, Rheanna; Brockman, Scott
Springer; e-Publications@Marquette
Autism; Adolescence; EEG; Asymmetry; PEERS; Intervention; Brain; Plasticity; Psychology
article description
This study examined whether the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS: Social skills for teenagers with developmental and autism spectrum disorders: The PEERS treatment manual, Routledge, New York, 2010a) affected neural function, via EEG asymmetry, in a randomized controlled trial of adolescents with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and a group of typically developing adolescents. Adolescents with ASD in PEERS shifted from right-hemisphere gamma-band EEG asymmetry before PEERS to left-hemisphere EEG asymmetry after PEERS, versus a waitlist ASD group. Left-hemisphere EEG asymmetry was associated with more social contacts and knowledge, and fewer symptoms of autism. Adolescents with ASD in PEERS no longer differed from typically developing adolescents in left-dominant EEG asymmetry at post-test. These findings are discussed via the Modifier Model of Autism (Mundy et al. in Res Pract Persons Severe Disabl 32(2):124, 2007), with emphasis on remediating isolation/withdrawal in ASD.