Atypical Sensory Characteristics in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Yoshiro Morimoto, MD, PHD
Akira Imamura, MD, PHD
Naoki Yamamoto, MD
Shinji Kanegae, MD, PHD
Hiroki Ozawa, MD, PHD
Ryoichiro Iwanaga, PHD


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by atypical cognitive, social, emotional, and perceptual functioning. An increasing body of evidence suggests that patients with ASD exhibit atypical perceptual and information processing in the auditory, visual, and tactile domains. However, the detailed characteristics of this atypical sensory functioning have not been fully elucidated. This chapter provides a comprehensive review of recent research into sensory processing in individuals with ASD, using a range of neuropsychological and neurophysiological techniques. Electroencephalography studies have reported atypical electrophysiological findings during sensory processing of visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation in individuals with ASD. In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have begun to elucidate the neural areas underlying these characteristic differences in sensory functioning. Several approaches, including environmental design, and support for parents and teachers to understand and respond to atypical sensory characteristics associated with ASD have been developed. Increasing understanding of the neurobiological processes underlying sensory problems in patients with ASD will aid the development of new treatment approaches.


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Chapter 5