Researchers used state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques (MEG and structural MRI) to examine how the brains of children with ASD and typically developing children process sounds. They played a series of very faint beeps through headphones and then mapped the location and activity of the neurons that responded to the sounds. Results revealed a very slight, but significant, delay (on the order of milliseconds!) in the response of neurons in the ASD sample compared to the typically developing sample. The researchers also found that gamma rhythms (high frequency brain waves) were slightly harder to detect in children with ASD compared to typically developing children. Finally, they found that children who are typically developing begin to respond more quickly to beeps played in their right ear compared to their left; this difference in response time was not present for children with ASD. These findings suggest that children with ASD may process sounds in the environment differently, which could have significant implications for how they develop language!
To read the Spectrum Article, click here.
To read the research study publication, click here.