Impaired Timing and Frequency Discrimination in High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) frequently demonstrate preserved or enhanced frequency perception but impaired timing perception. The present study investigated the processing of spectral and temporal information in 12 adolescents with ASD and 15 age-matched controls. Participants completed two psychoacoustic tasks: one determined frequency difference limens, and the other determined gap detection thresholds. Results showed impaired frequency discrimination at the highest standard frequency in the ASD group but no overall difference between groups. However, when groups were defined by auditory hyper-sensitivity, a group difference arose. For the gap detection task, the ASD group demonstrated elevated thresholds. This supports previous research demonstrating a deficit in ASD in temporal perception and suggests a connection between hyper-sensitivity and frequency discrimination abilities.
KeywordsAuditory perception Psychophysics Hyper-sensitivity Asperger syndrome High-functioning autism
Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women to AB, as well as funds from the The Help Group—UCLA Autism Research Alliance and the Children’s Music Fund. We thank Elias Ballat and Sophie Kaye for assistance with testing and to all of the participants and their families for their time and effort.
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