Article

Sensory Processing in Autism: A Review of Neurophysiologic Findings

Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
Pediatric Research (Impact Factor: 2.31). 02/2011; 69(5 Pt 2):48R-54R. DOI: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3182130c54
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Atypical sensory-based behaviors are a ubiquitous feature of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In this article, we review the neural underpinnings of sensory processing in autism by reviewing the literature on neurophysiological responses to auditory, tactile, and visual stimuli in autistic individuals. We review studies of unimodal sensory processing and multisensory integration that use a variety of neuroimaging techniques, including electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and functional MRI. We then explore the impact of covert and overt attention on sensory processing. With additional characterization, neurophysiologic profiles of sensory processing in ASD may serve as valuable biomarkers for diagnosis and monitoring of therapeutic interventions for autism and reveal potential strategies and target brain regions for therapeutic interventions.

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Available from: Leighton Hinkley, Jul 10, 2014
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    • "Sensory abnormalities have been reported in the original descriptions of autism (Kanner, 1968), and now are among the core ASD symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Atypical sensory processing has been observed in ASD within multiple sensory modalities including vision (Davis et al., 2006;Simmons et al., 2009;Marco et al., 2011;Ausderau et al., 2014). Recent studies have shown that even basic visual processes are affected in ASD (Kéïta et al., 2010Koh et al., 2010;Greenaway et al., 2013;Latham et al., 2013;Weinger et al., 2014;Jachim et al., 2015;for a review, see Simmons et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: People are very precise in the discrimination of a line orientation relative to the cardinal (verti-cal and horizontal) axes, while their orientation discrimination sensitivity along the oblique ax-es is less refined. This difference in discrimination sensitivity along cardinal and oblique axes is called the “oblique effect”. Given that the oblique effect is a basic feature of visual pro-cessing with an early developmental origin, its investigation in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may shed light on the nature of visual sensory abnormalities frequently report-ed in this population. We examined line orientation sensitivity along oblique and vertical axes in a sample of 26 boys with ASD (IQ > 68) and 38 typically developing (TD) boys aged 7-15 years, as well as in a subsample of carefully IQ-matched ASD and TD participants. Children were asked to detect the direction of tilt of a high-contrast black-and-white grating relative to vertical (90°) or oblique (45°) templates. The oblique effect was reduced in children with ASD as compared to TD participants, irrespective of their IQ. This reduction was due to poor orien-tation sensitivity along vertical axis in ASD children, while their ability to discriminate line orientation along oblique axis was unaffected. We speculate that this deficit in sensitivity to vertical orientation may reflect disrupted mechanisms of early experience-dependent learning that takes place during the critical period for orientation selectivity.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Frontiers in Neuroscience
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    • "Sensory abnormalities have been reported in the original descriptions of autism (Kanner, 1968), and now are among the core ASD symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Atypical sensory processing has been observed in ASD within multiple sensory modalities including vision (Davis et al., 2006;Simmons et al., 2009;Marco et al., 2011;Ausderau et al., 2014). Recent studies have shown that even basic visual processes are affected in ASD (Kéïta et al., 2010Koh et al., 2010;Greenaway et al., 2013;Latham et al., 2013;Weinger et al., 2014;Jachim et al., 2015;for a review, see Simmons et al., 2009). "

    Full-text · Dataset · Jan 2016
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    • "Atypical sensory functioning in ASD has been well documented in the last decade for the visual (Simmons et al., 2009), tactile (Puts et al., 2014) and auditory (O'Connor, 2012; Hitoglou et al., 2010) systems (Marco et al., 2011); for instance, it has been shown that orientation toward social sounds is impaired in ASD children (Dawson et al., 2004). On the other hand, olfaction and taste in ASD are still understudied despite the fact that experimental proof of the importance of environmental odor cues for the social and cognitive development of ASD children was provided by 2 recent studies. "
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    ABSTRACT: Atypical sensory functioning in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been well documented in the last decade for the visual, tactile and auditory systems, but olfaction in ASD is still understudied. The aim of the present study was to examine whether children with ASD and neuro-typically (NT) developed children differed in odor perception, at the cognitive (familiarity and identification ability), sensorimotor (olfactory exploration) and affective levels (hedonic evaluation). Because an important function of the sense of smell is its involvement in eating, from food selection to appreciation and recognition, a potential link between odor perception and food neophobia was also investigated. To these ends, 10 children between 6 and 13 years old diagnosed with ASD and 10 NT control children were tested. To compare performance, 16 stimuli were used and food neophobia was assessed by the parents on a short food neophobia scale. Results revealed that (i) significant hedonic discrimination between attractive and aversive odors was observed in NT (p = 0.005; d = 2.378) and ASD children (p = 0.042; d = 0.941), and (ii) hedonic discrimination level was negatively correlated with food neophobia scores in ASD (p = 0.007) but not NT children. In conclusion, this study offers new insights into odor perception in ASD children, highlighting a relationship between odor hedonic reactivity and eating behavior. This opens up new perspectives on both (i) the role of olfaction in the construction of eating behavior in ASD children, and (ii) the measurement and meaning of food neophobia in this population.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
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