Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 65–76

Can Spectro-Temporal Complexity Explain the Autistic Pattern of Performance on Auditory Tasks?

  • Fabienne Samson
  • Laurent Mottron
  • Boutheina Jemel
  • Pascal Belin
  • Valter Ciocca


To test the hypothesis that level of neural complexity explain the relative level of performance and brain activity in autistic individuals, available behavioural, ERP and imaging findings related to the perception of increasingly complex auditory material under various processing tasks in autism were reviewed. Tasks involving simple material (pure tones) and/or low-level operations (detection, labelling, chord disembedding, detection of pitch changes) show a superior level of performance and shorter ERP latencies. In contrast, tasks involving spectrally- and temporally-dynamic material and/or complex operations (evaluation, attention) are poorly performed by autistics, or generate inferior ERP activity or brain activation. Neural complexity required to perform auditory tasks may therefore explain pattern of performance and activation of autistic individuals during auditory tasks.


Autism audition perception complexity local global 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabienne Samson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laurent Mottron
    • 1
    • 2
  • Boutheina Jemel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pascal Belin
    • 3
    • 4
  • Valter Ciocca
    • 5
  1. 1.Pervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic, Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital, & Fernand Seguin Research CenterUniversity of MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MontrealMontréalCanada
  5. 5.Speech and Hearing SciencesUniversity of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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