Objectives: This presentation will briefly discuss the clinical utility of recording ANS responsivity in ASD, review findings to date in this area, describe the abovementioned methodological issues, and demonstrate a novel platform being developed in the MIT Media Lab for sensing sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic data comfortably off the wrist and ankle without wires or boxes.
Methods: The wireless autonomic recording system captures: (1) Electrodermal activity, which provides a sensitive measure of changes in sympathetic arousal associated with emotion, cognition and attention; (2) Heart rate and heart rate variability that provides information related to the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS; (3) Temperature; and (4) Motor movement and posture changes through 3-axis accelerometery. The 3-axis accelerometer and temperature sensors provide information about a person’s activity and account for the influence of motion and environmental temperature on electrodermal and cardiovascular signals.
Results: & Conclusions: Monitoring autonomic reactivity using comfortable, wireless, wearable packages could enable new in situ experimental paradigms and address some of the shortcomings associated with traditional methods of recording the ANS in persons with ASD. For instance, these sensors could enable longitudinal studies of individuals that yield data beyond the traditional “snapshot” timeframe, providing new insights on within-person, within-group, and across-group differences over time, and capturing phenomena of interest that are hard to replicate in laboratory settings, e.g., panic attacks. Measuring and communicating ANS patterns that precede, co-occur, and follow an event could also provide rich data enabling new ways to anticipate, intervene on, and ultimately prevent problem behaviors.