A Nature Research Journal. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition, and little is known about its neurobiology. Much of autism research has focused on the social, communication and cognitive difficulties associated with the condition. However, the recent revision of the diagnostic criteria for autism has brought another key domain of autistic experience into focus: sensory processing. Here, we review the properties of sensory processing in autism and discuss recent computational and neurobiological insights arising from attention to these behaviours.
We argue that sensory traits have important implications for the development of animal and computational models of the condition. Finally, we consider how difficulties in sensory processing may relate to the other domains of behaviour that characterize autism.
Sensory symptoms have been observed since early reports of autism spectrum conditions but historically were thought to represent secondary consequences of differences in social-cognitive processing. Developmental research suggests that sensory symptoms manifest early in development and contribute unique variance to the diagnostic criteria of autism.
Neuroimaging evidence suggests that sensory symptoms originate from differences in low-level processing in sensory-dedicated regions in the autistic brain and offer insight into circuit-level alterations. Although common behavioural paradigms are not yet in place, sensory-processing differences are evident in genetic animal models of the condition and may represent promising translatable biomarkers of autism. Baron-Cohen, S.
The Dynamic Double Flash Illusion: Auditory Triggered Replay of Illusory Visual Expansion
Does the autistic child have a 'theory of mind'? Cognition 21 , 37—46 The empathy quotient: an investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high functioning autism, and normal sex differences.
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Autism Dev. Tomchek, S. Sensory processing in children with and without autism: a comparative study using the Short Sensory Profile. Tavassoli, T. Sensory over-responsivity in adults with autism spectrum conditions. Autism 18 , — Taste identification in adults with autism spectrum conditions. Marco, E. Children with autism show reduced somatosensory response: an MEG study. Autism Res. Puts, N. Impaired tactile processing in children with autism spectrum disorder.
The Neuroscience of Consciousness (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
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This longitudinal study of infants at risk of autism diagnoses shows that high-risk infants have higher levels of sensorimotor symptoms at 6 months of age and that these symptoms predict subsequent diagnostic status.. Brooks, R. The importance of eyes: how infants interpret adult looking behavior. Turner-Brown, L. The First Year Inventory: a longitudinal follow-up of month-old to 3-year-old children.
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2. Methods for Tracking Consciousness
Haesen, B. A review of behavioural and electrophysiological studies on auditory processing and speech perception in autism spectrum disorders. Autism Spectr. Baum, S. Behavioral, perceptual, and neural alterations in sensory and multisensory function in autism spectrum disorder. Stevenson, R.
- Recent advances in understanding the auditory cortex.
Keeping time in the brain: autism spectrum disorder and audiovisual temporal processing. Wallace, M. The construct of the multisensory temporal binding window and its dysregulation in developmental disabilities. Neuropsychologia 64 , — Shah, A. An islet of ability in autistic children: a research note.
Psychiatry 24 , — Happe, F. Exploring the cognitive phenotype of autism: weak 'central coherence' in parents and siblings of children with autism. Experimental tests. Psychiatry 42 , — Talent in autism: hyper-systemizing, hyper-attention to detail and sensory hypersensitivity.
B Biol. Plaisted, K. Enhanced visual search for a conjunctive target in autism: a research note. Psychiatry 39 , — This foundational study shows faster target detection during conjunctive visual search in autism — a finding now widely replicated. Enhanced discrimination of novel, highly similar stimuli by adults with autism during a perceptual learning task. O'Riordan, M. Superior visual search in autism. Keehn, B. Functional brain organization for visual search in ASD.
Baldassi, S. Search superiority in autism within, but not outside the crowding regime. Joseph, R. Why is visual search superior in autism spectrum disorder? Far visual acuity is unremarkable in autism: do we need to focus on crowding? Gliga, T. Enhanced visual search in infancy predicts emerging autism symptoms. Kaldy, Z. Toddlers with autism spectrum disorder are more successful at visual search than typically developing toddlers. Wang, S. Atypical visual saliency in autism spectrum disorder quantified through model-based eye tracking.
Neuron 88 , — This data-driven analysis of gaze patterns during natural scene-viewing in individuals with autism shows that gaze patterns in autism are biased towards scene regions that are salient in terms of low-level pixel features such as contrast, colour and orientation. Mottron, L. Enhanced perceptual functioning in autism: an update, and eight principles of autistic perception.
Psychophysical measures of visual acuity in autism spectrum conditions. Visual information processing in high-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their parents. Neuropsychology 21 , 65—73 Koh, H.