Research in Brief: ASD Separates Senses of Sight and Sound Children with autism spectrum disorders have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears, according to a Vanderbilt study published Jan. 15 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The study, led by Mark Wallace of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, strongly suggests that deficits in the sensory building blocks for ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   April 01, 2014
Research in Brief: ASD Separates Senses of Sight and Sound
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   April 01, 2014
Research in Brief: ASD Separates Senses of Sight and Sound
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.19042014.16
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.19042014.16
Children with autism spectrum disorders have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears, according to a Vanderbilt study published Jan. 15 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The study, led by Mark Wallace of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, strongly suggests that deficits in the sensory building blocks for language and communication can ultimately hamper social and communication skills in children with ASD.
In the study, Vanderbilt researchers compared 32 typically developing children with 32 high-functioning children with ASD (ages 6–18), matching the groups in virtually every possible way, including IQ. Study participants worked through a battery of mostly computer-generated tasks. Researchers used different types of audiovisual stimuli such as simple flashes and beeps, more complex environmental stimuli like a hammer hitting a nail, and speech stimuli, and asked the participants to tell them whether the visual and auditory events happened at the same time.
The study found that children with ASD have a prolongation in what is known as the “temporal binding window”—meaning the brain has trouble associating visual and auditory events that happen within a certain period of time. A second part of the study found that children with ASD also showed weaknesses in how strongly they “bound” or paired audiovisual speech stimuli.
“One of the classic pictures of children with ASD is they have their hands over their ears,” Wallace said. “We believe that one reason for this may be that they are trying to compensate for their changes in sensory function by simply looking at one sense at a time. This may be a strategy to minimize the confusion between the senses.”
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April 2014
Volume 19, Issue 4