Quantitative Sensory Testing in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Altered sensory perception has been found in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and might be related to aberrant sensory perception thresholds. We used the well-established, standardized Quantitative sensory testing (QST) protocol of the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain to investigate 13 somatosensory parameters including thermal and tactile detection and pain thresholds in 13 ASD adults and 13 matched healthy controls with normal IQ values. There were no group differences between somatosensory detection and pain thresholds. Two ASD patients showed paradoxical heat sensations and another two ASD subjects presented dynamic mechanical allodynia; somatosensory features that were absent in controls. These findings suggest that central mechanisms during complex stimulus integration rather than peripheral dysfunctions probably determine somatosensory alterations in ASD.
KeywordsAutism Quantitative sensory testing Sensory thresholds Hyposensitivity Hypersensitivity
This work was supported by the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (Grant 2011_A37; A.M.) and by the EU (FP7-ICT-270212, ERC-2010-AdG-269716, H2020-641321; A.K.E.). We would like to thank all the patients investigated in this study for their support and commitment. Thanks to Jan Vollert (University Medical Center Bochum) and Tina Mainka (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf) for their advice.
OF and WG equally participated in the conception and design of the study, performed data acquisition, analysis and interpretation, drafted and reviewed the manuscript. DS, IP, ND, AM and AKE participated in the conception and design of the study, performed data interpretation and manuscript revision for important intellectual content. KF and NW participated in the conception and design of the study, performed data analysis and interpretation as well as manuscript revision for important intellectual content. UB participated in the conception and design of the study, performed data interpretation and manuscript drafting as well as manuscript revision for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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.
Human and Animal Research Information
Our research involved human participants.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. They were told to be free to withdraw from the study at any time.
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