Rapid eye movement (REM) activity in normal and autistic children during REM sleep.
Thirty normal children (aged 3--68 months) and 16 autistic children (aged 36--62 months) were recorded during nonmedicated sleep and data pertaining to rapid eye movements (REM) were measured during the first three REM periods of the night. When time of night from which data were gathered was held constant, normal children showed a significant relationship between age and the organization of eye movements into discrete bursts. When autistic children were compared to age-matched normal controls, they showed an immaturity in this phenomena, their results being similar to those found in children less than 18 months of age. Such an immaturity could result from dysfunction at a number of diverse levels and sites in the central nervous system.