There is no synchrony between audio and video processing in the brains of autistic children, a new study has found.
Kids suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder see the world differently, almost like watching "a badly dubbed movie," according to a news release by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Research has shown that both genes and environment raise autism risk.
The latest study on autism shows that the disorder leads to poor processing of sensory information, which hampers the child's learning abilities.
"There is a huge amount of effort and energy going into the treatment of children with autism, virtually none of it is based on a strong empirical foundation tied to sensory function," said Mark Wallace, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, lead author of the study. "If we can fix this deficit in early sensory function then maybe we can see benefits in language and communication and social interactions."
About 64 kids between ages 6 and 18 years participated in the study, of which 32 had autism.
All children were put through a variety of tests. The kids were subjected to different audiovisual stimuli. The audio-video clips ranged from simple beeps and flashes of light to complex audios like sound of hammer hitting a nail and a person speaking. The participants were asked if the audio and visual stimuli were occurring at the same time.
According to the researchers, children with autism have trouble associating visuals with sounds due to an enlargement in temporal binding window.
"Children with autism have difficulty processing simultaneous input from audio and visual channels. That is, they have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears," said co-author Stephen Camarata, Ph.D., professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences. "It is like they are watching a foreign movie that was badly dubbed, the auditory and visual signals do not match in their brains."
The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
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