Audiovisual Speech Perception and Eye Gaze Behavior of Adults with Asperger Syndrome
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Audiovisual speech perception was studied in adults with Asperger syndrome (AS), by utilizing the McGurk effect, in which conflicting visual articulation alters the perception of heard speech. The AS group perceived the audiovisual stimuli differently from age, sex and IQ matched controls. When a voice saying /p/ was presented with a face articulating /k/, the controls predominantly heard /k/. Instead, the AS group heard /k/ and /t/ with almost equal frequency, but with large differences between individuals. There were no differences in gaze direction or unisensory perception between the AS and control participants that could have contributed to the audiovisual differences. We suggest an explanation in terms of weak support from the motor system for audiovisual speech perception in AS.
KeywordsAsperger syndrome Autism spectrum disorders Multisensory integration Audiovisual speech Eye gaze behavior Perception
We are obliged to the participants of the study. We would like to acknowledge the contibution of the anonymous Reviewers of this paper, whose comments led to considerable improvements. We thank Tapani Suihkonen for participating in the preparation of the experiment, Tuomas Tolvanen for his help in preprocessing the eye gaze tracking data, and Jari Lipsanen for statistical advice. Eira Jansson-Verkasalo Ph.D. and Minna Laakso Ph.D. gave useful comments on the manuscript and Taina Nieminen- von Wendt MD, Ph.D. helped with her diagnostic expertise. We also thank Professor Pirkko Oittinen for providing access to the eye tracking equipment. The study was funded by Langnet, the Finnish Graduate School of Language Studies, and by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. We dedicate this study to the memory of Professor Lennart von Wendt.
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