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Neural Correlates of Sensory Hyporesponsiveness in Toddlers at High Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Altered patterns of sensory responsiveness are a frequently reported feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Younger siblings of individuals with ASD are at a greatly elevated risk of a future diagnosis of ASD, but little is known about the neural basis of sensory responsiveness patterns in this population. Younger siblings (n = 20) of children diagnosed with ASD participated in resting electroencephalography (EEG) at an age of 18 months. Data on toddlers' sensory responsiveness were obtained using the Sensory Experiences Questionnaire. Correlations were present between hyporesponsiveness and patterns of oscillatory power, functional connectivity, and signal complexity. Our findings suggest that neural signal features hold promise for facilitating early identification and targeted remediation in young children at risk for ASD.
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Vol:.(1234567890)
J Autism Dev Disord (2017) 47:2710–2722
DOI 10.1007/s10803-017-3191-4
1 3
ORIGINAL PAPER
Neural Correlates ofSensory Hyporesponsiveness inToddlers
atHigh Risk forAutism Spectrum Disorder
DavidM.Simon1,2· CaraR.Damiano3· TiffanyG.Woynaroski4,5· LisaV.Ibañez6·
MichaelMurias7· WendyL.Stone6· MarkT.Wallace2,4,5,8,9· CarissaJ.Cascio4,9
Published online: 8 June 2017
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017
Our findings suggest that neural signal features hold prom-
ise for facilitating early identification and targeted remedia-
tion in young children at risk for ASD.
Keywords Autism spectrum disorder· Infant siblings·
Electroencephalogram (EEG)· Functional connectivity·
Frontal EEG asymmetry· Sensory hyporesponsiveness
Introduction
The Need toIdentify Neurophysiological Substrates
ofSensory Hyporesponsiveness inASD
Atypical responses to sensory stimuli have been noted
since the earliest accounts of autism spectrum disorder
(ASD) and are now recognized as a core feature of the
disorder (American Psychiatric Association 2013; Kan-
ner 1943). A broad range of altered sensory responses
has been observed across individuals with ASD; however,
hyporesponsiveness is of special interest. Hyporespon-
siveness is characterized by the absence, diminishment,
or delay of the expected behavioral response to sensory
stimuli (Baranek et al. 2006). Examples of hyporespon-
sive behaviors include a failure to orient towards a novel
sound, or a reduced response to unpleasant or painful tac-
tile stimuli (Baranek etal. 2006). This pattern of sensory
responsiveness is highly prevalent in ASD and differenti-
ates ASD from generalized developmental delay (Baranek
et al. 2006; Ben-Sasson etal. 2009; Rogers and Ozonoff
2005). Evidence that hyporesponsiveness emerges early
in development (Baranek 1999; Freuler etal. 2012; Jones
et al. 2003) and is associated with broader ASD sympto-
mology (Baranek etal. 2013; Foss-Feig etal. 2012; Wat-
son etal. 2011) has led researchers to propose that reduced
Abstract Altered patterns of sensory responsiveness are
a frequently reported feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD). Younger siblings of individuals with ASD are at a
greatly elevated risk of a future diagnosis of ASD, but little
is known about the neural basis of sensory responsiveness
patterns in this population. Younger siblings (n = 20) of
children diagnosed with ASD participated in resting elec-
troencephalography (EEG) at an age of 18 months. Data on
toddlers’ sensory responsiveness were obtained using the
Sensory Experiences Questionnaire. Correlations were pre-
sent between hyporesponsiveness and patterns of oscilla-
tory power, functional connectivity, and signal complexity.
* Carissa J. Cascio
carissa.cascio@vanderbilt.edu
1 Neuroscience Graduate Program, Vanderbilt Brain Institute,
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University,
Nashville, TN, USA
2 Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt University Medical
Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
3 Duke Center forAutism andBrain Development, Duke
University, Durham, NC, USA
4 Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,
TN, USA
5 Department ofHearing andSpeech Sciences, Vanderbilt
University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA
6 Department ofPsychology, University ofWashington,
Seattle, WA, USA
7 Duke Institute forBrain Sciences, Duke University, Durham,
NC, USA
8 Department ofPsychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,
TN, USA
9 Department ofPsychiatry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,
TN, USA
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