Attenuated auditory event-related potentials and associations with atypical sensory response patterns in children with autism
Neurobiological underpinnings of unusual sensory features in individuals with autism are unknown. Event-related potentials elicited by task-irrelevant sounds were used to elucidate neural correlates of auditory processing and associations with three common sensory response patterns (hyperresponsiveness; hyporesponsiveness; sensory seeking). Twenty-eight children with autism and 39 typically developing children (4–12 year-olds) completed an auditory oddball paradigm. Results revealed marginally attenuated P1 and N2 to standard tones and attenuated P3a to novel sounds in autism versus controls. Exploratory analyses suggested that within the autism group, attenuated N2 and P3a amplitudes were associated with greater sensory seeking behaviors for specific ranges of P1 responses. Findings suggest that attenuated early sensory as well as later attention-orienting neural responses to stimuli may underlie selective sensory features via complex mechanisms.