Multisensory Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Sayaka Kawakami, PHD
Sadao Otsuka, PHD


Regarding the atypical characteristics of cognition and information processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), recent focus has been centered around fundamental processing, such as multisensory integration (MSI). Experimental studies have reported atypical MSI, especially audio-visual integration, in both children and adults with ASD using social (e.g., faces and voices) and nonsocial stimuli (e.g., flashes and beeps). Furthermore, there has been a gradual increase in the understanding of the behavioral (e.g., higher temporal resolution) and neural mechanisms (e.g., impaired phase alignment of neuro-oscillations) underlying atypical MSI in ASD. Previous studies have proposed that prominent deficits in social cognition and interactions (i.e., higher-order functions) are influenced and/or induced by atypicalities in MSI (i.e., lower-order function). Thus, interventions targeting MSI may promote social cognition, likely resulting in better outcomes in adulthood in individuals with ASD. This chapter describes current knowledge regarding multisensory processing in ASD and future perspectives on relevant research and practices. We highlight the value of focusing on MSI for understanding the clinical characteristics of ASD and possible interventions targeting MSI for this population.



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