Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 9, pp 2992–3005 | Cite as

Physiological Response to Social Evaluative Threat in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • E. Kale Edmiston
  • Robin M. Jones
  • Blythe A. CorbettEmail author
Original Paper


The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was employed to study response to social evaluative threat in male adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD, n = 21) and typical development (n = 13). Participants wore a mobile electrocardiogram to collect heart rate data. There were significant group effects on respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a measure of parasympathetic nervous system function, with lower values in ASD (F = 4.97). Bivariate correlations also showed a significant relationship between parent reports of social problems and RSA response to the TSST (r = −0.586). These findings suggest that autonomic dysregulation may contribute to social deficits in adolescents with ASD.


Respiratory sinus arrhythmia Autism spectrum disorder Adolescence Social evaluative threat Psychophysiology 



The authors would like to thank the adolescents and their families who participated in this study. This manuscript was prepared from the first author’s doctoral dissertation.


This study was funded by NIMH R01 MH085717.

Author Contributions

EKE participated in the design of the study, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and drafting of the manuscript. RMJ participated in the analysis and interpretation of data and drafting of the manuscript. BAC conceived of the study, particpated in the collection and interpretation of the data, and drafting of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2016_2842_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Kale Edmiston
    • 1
  • Robin M. Jones
    • 2
  • Blythe A. Corbett
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Vanderbilt Brain InstituteVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Hearing and Speech SciencesVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA

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