A Chan dietary intervention enhances executive functions and anterior cingulate activity in autism spectrum disorders: A randomized controlled trial

Agnes S. Chan, Sophia L. Sze, Yvonne Ming Yee Han, Mei Chun Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Executive dysfunctions have been found to be related to repetitive/disinhibited behaviors and social deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). This study aims to investigate the potential effect of a Shaolin-medicine-based dietary modification on improving executive functions and behavioral symptoms of ASD and exploring the possible underlying neurophysiological mechanisms. Twenty-four children with ASD were randomly assigned into the experimental (receiving dietary modification for one month) and the control (no modification) groups. Each child was assessed on his/her executive functions, behavioral problems based on parental ratings, and event-related electroencephalography (EEG) activity during a response-monitoring task before and after the one month. The experimental group demonstrated significantly improved mental flexibility and inhibitory control after the diet modification, which continued to have a large effect size within the low-functioning subgroup. Such improvements coincided with positive evaluations by their parents on social communication abilities and flexible inhibitory control of daily behaviors and significantly enhanced event-related EEG activity at the rostral and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. In contrast, the control group did not show any significant improvements. These positive outcomes of a one-month dietary modification on children with ASD have implicated its potential clinical applicability for patients with executive function deficits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number262136
JournalEvidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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