Evidence is beginning to accrue that multisensory integration is atypical among persons on the autism spectrum. For example, individuals with ASD are less susceptible to multisensory illusions such as the McGurk effect and basic electrophysiological metrics indicate a delay the onset of automatic multisensory integration among children with autism, at least where passive auditory-somatosensory inputs are concerned (Russo et al., 2010). In light of this, we sought to test whether these delays were related to the broader autism endophenotype or whether they were ‘unique’ to individuals with a diagnosis of an ASD.
Here, we present findings from an electrophysiological study in which we measured brain responses to multisensory auditory and tactile stimulation in three groups of children: siblings of children with ASD, children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children. Our goal was to determine whether multisensory integration deficits are endophenotypic or whether they have a potentially diagnostic value for persons with ASD.
In this preliminary study, we present data from 7 siblings of children with an ASD, 7 TD, children and 7 children with an ASD matched on age and performance IQ. Participants completed a passive task in which auditory and somatosensory stimuli were presented either alone or simultaneously while they watched a movie with the sound turned down.
Preliminary analysis suggests that automatic multisensory integration in the siblings of children with autism resemble those of typically developing children.
These findings are discussed with respect to their implications for the uniqueness and specificity of multisensory integration differences in children with autism.
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