Measurement of excitation-inhibition ratio in autism spectrum disorder using critical brain dynamics

Hilgo Bruining, Richard Hardstone, Erika L. Juarez-Martinez, Jan Sprengers, Arthur Ervin Avramiea, Sonja Simpraga, Simon J. Houtman, Simon Shlomo Poil, Eva Dallares, Satu Palva, Bob Oranje, J. Matias Palva, Huibert D. Mansvelder, Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Balance between excitation (E) and inhibition (I) is a key principle for neuronal network organization and information processing. Consistent with this notion, excitation-inhibition imbalances are considered a pathophysiological mechanism in many brain disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, methods to measure E/I ratios in human brain networks are lacking. Here, we present a method to quantify a functional E/I ratio (fE/I) from neuronal oscillations, and validate it in healthy subjects and children with ASD. We define structural E/I ratio in an in silico neuronal network, investigate how it relates to power and long-range temporal correlations (LRTC) of the network’s activity, and use these relationships to design the fE/I algorithm. Application of this algorithm to the EEGs of healthy adults showed that fE/I is balanced at the population level and is decreased through GABAergic enforcement. In children with ASD, we observed larger fE/I variability and stronger LRTC compared to typically developing children (TDC). Interestingly, visual grading for EEG abnormalities that are thought to reflect E/I imbalances revealed elevated fE/I and LRTC in ASD children with normal EEG compared to TDC or ASD with abnormal EEG. We speculate that our approach will help understand physiological heterogeneity also in other brain disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9195
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2020

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