Characterizing Early Development and NREM Sleep in Infants and Toddlers and Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Page, Jessica
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • Early childhood is characterized by rapid development and pronounced changes in early brain function and learning. Both are thought to be fostered by non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. NREM sleep is characterized by the presence of slow wave activity (SWA) and sleep spindles (10-16 Hz). Both slow waves and sleep spindles exhibit pronounced developmental trajectories and are related to intelligence and general learning traits in school aged children, adults and may be altered in several neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Yet, these features are poorly understood in typically developing (TD) infants/toddlers and those at-risk for ASD. Moreover, it is unclear how these features are associated with outcomes of early development in TD infants/toddlers and those at-risk for ASD. This study aimed to address the following: (1) identify features of NREM sleep in 12-30-month-olds; (2) identify patterns of NREM sleep that are associated with infant/toddler development; (3) identify NREM features differentiating TD and ASD; and (4) examine NREM patterns associated with development in ASD. Using data from the Early Development and Sleep study, data collected during the home visit (measures administered: ADOS-2, MSEL, and VABS) was correlated with high density electroencephalography (hdEEG) nap recordings. The findings illustrated age related changes in delta (.5-2 Hz), theta (4-7 Hz), sleep spindles (10-16 Hz), and beta (20-25 Hz) oscillations in the 12-30-month age span. These frequencies correlated with domain and composite scores on the MSEL and VABS. NREM findings at both the group and individual level, showed significant differences between infants/toddlers with ASD and TD. These differences were decreased theta (4-7 Hz), decreased spindles (10-16 Hz), and excessive beta (20-25 Hz) in infants/toddlers with ASD. These features were negatively correlated with performance on the MSEL and VABS and highly associated with ASD symptom severity. These findings suggest an important role of NREM sleep and the associated development of cognitive behavioral skillsets during this important developmental period. These findings provide support for the role of NREM sleep as a potential risk marker for ASD. Yet, more research is needed to further understand the application of a risk marker for research and clinical practice.
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  • In Copyright
  • Ornstein, Peter
  • Crais, Elizabeth
  • Frohlich, Flavio
  • Able, Harriet
  • Odom, Sam
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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