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Publication Detail
A striking reduction of simple loudness adaptation in autism.
Abstract
Reports of sensory disturbance, such as loudness sensitivity or sound intolerance, are ubiquitous in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but a mechanistic explanation for these perceptual differences is lacking. Here we tested adaptation to loudness, a process that regulates incoming sensory input, in adults with ASD and matched controls. Simple loudness adaptation (SLA) is a fundamental adaptive process that reduces the subjective loudness of quiet steady-state sounds in the environment over time, whereas induced loudness adaptation (ILA) is a means of generating a reduction in the perceived volume of louder sounds. ASD participants showed a striking reduction in magnitude and rate of SLA relative to age and ability-matched typical adults, but in contrast ILA remained intact. Furthermore, rate of SLA predicted sensory sensitivity coping strategies in the ASD group. These results provide the first evidence that compromised neural mechanisms governing fundamental adaptive processes might account for sound sensitivity in ASD.
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