Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 222, Issue 4, pp 377–387

Links between multisensory processing and autism

  • Sarah E. Donohue
  • Elise F. Darling
  • Stephen R. Mitroff
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-012-3223-4

Cite this article as:
Donohue, S.E., Darling, E.F. & Mitroff, S.R. Exp Brain Res (2012) 222: 377. doi:10.1007/s00221-012-3223-4

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder is typically associated with social deficits and is often specifically linked to difficulty with processing faces and other socially relevant stimuli. Emerging research has suggested that children with autism might also have deficits in basic perceptual abilities including multisensory processing (e.g., simultaneously processing visual and auditory inputs). The current study examined the relationship between multisensory temporal processing (assessed via a simultaneity judgment task wherein participants were to report whether a visual stimulus and an auditory stimulus occurred at the same time or at different times) and self-reported symptoms of autism (assessed via the Autism Spectrum Quotient questionnaire). Data from over 100 healthy adults revealed a relationship between these two factors as multisensory timing perception correlated with symptoms of autism. Specifically, a stronger bias to perceive auditory stimuli occurring before visual stimuli as simultaneous was associated with greater levels of autistic symptoms. Additional data and analyses confirm that this relationship is specific to multisensory processing and symptoms of autism. These results provide insight into the nature of multisensory processing while also revealing a continuum over which perceptual abilities correlate with symptoms of autism and that this continuum is not just specific to clinical populations but is present within the general population.

Keywords

Multisensory Autism Auditory Visual Temporal 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah E. Donohue
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elise F. Darling
    • 1
    • 3
  • Stephen R. Mitroff
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurobiologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA