Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS) is a rare genetic disorder caused by deletion or sequence variation in the SHANK3 gene at terminal chromosome 22 that confers high likelihood of comorbid autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Whereas individuals with idiopathic ASD (iASD) can demonstrate diverse patterns of sensory differences, PMS is mainly characterized by sensory hyporesponsiveness. This study used electrophysiology and a passive auditory habituation paradigm to test for neural markers of hyporesponsiveness. EEG was recorded from 15 individuals with PMS, 15 with iASD, and 16 with neurotypical development (NT) while a series of four consecutive 1,000 Hz tones was repeatedly presented. We found intact N1, P2, and N2 event-related potentials (ERPs) and habituation to simple auditory stimuli, both in individuals with iASD and in those with PMS. Both iASD and PMS groups showed robust responses to the initial tone and decaying responses to each subsequent tone, at levels comparable to the NT control group. However, in PMS greater initial N1 amplitude and habituation were associated with auditory hypersensitivity, and P2 habituation correlated with ASD symptomatology. Additionally, further classification of the PMS cohort into genetic groupings revealed dissociation of initial P2 amplitude and habituation of N1 based on whether the deletions included additional genes beyond solely SHANK3 and those not thought to contribute to phenotype. These results provide preliminary insight into early auditory processing in PMS and suggest that while neural response and habituation is generally preserved in PMS, genotypic and phenotypic characteristics may drive some variability. These initial findings provide early evidence that the robust pattern of behavioral hyporesponsiveness in PMS may be due, at least in audition, to higher order factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number815933
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 3 May 2022


  • EEG
  • auditory
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • genetics
  • habituation
  • perception
  • phelan-mcdermid syndrome
  • sensory


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