Background: Children with multiple complex developmental disorder (MCDD) have been distinguished from autistic children on the basis of chart reviews. It was questioned whether it is possible to find other, e.g., event-related potential (ERP), evidence for this assertion.
Methods: ERPs were measured in response to stimuli in a visual oddball task in autistic, MCDD, attention deficit disorder, dyslexic, and normal control children, to study whether ERP peaks can be used to distinguish autistic and MCDD children, and to classify the aforementioned groups.
Results: It was found that the P3 at four different leads and the frontal Nc showed differences among the groups, and that the autistic and MCDD groups differed from each other as well as from the other groups. Also, it was found that, using discriminant analyses in which these parameters were included, children were classified above chance level. Especially in the MCDD group, a high percentage of correct classification was seen.
Conclusions: ERP parameters indicate that autistic and MCDD children might differ in underlying pathology and might therefore, better be regarded as two separate diagnostic entities.
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Accepted: December 10, 1998
Received in revised form: December 3, 1998
Received: June 22, 1998
© 1999 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.