Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are defined by impairments in reciprocal social interaction, communication, and the presence of repetitive patterns of behavior. These symptoms are defined by a tendency to disengage from external sensory stimuli, with the exception of idiosyncratic stimuli (e.g. sensory interests, circumscribed interests) that may be engaged intensely and/or repetitively. This pattern suggests a possible alteration in the balance between the reward value of internal relative to external sensory inputs in ASD. The insula is known for its role in monitoring internal state, a sensory process known as interoception, and evaluating internal signals for affective significance using inputs from limbic structures. The insula and the anterior cingulate cortex constitute the salience network, which uses this information about affective significance to facilitate switching attention from internal (default mode) to external loci. The role of the insula and anterior cingulate in ASD has only recently begun to be explored. This series of presentations provides evidence from neuroimaging and behavioral approaches for differences in the salience network, including enhanced interoception, as well as altered structure and function of the salience network, in ASD and in association with autistic traits in the general population.
Friday, 3 May 2013: 17:30-18:30
Meeting Room 3 (Kursaal Centre)
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