Research Study Summary
Sensory Processing and Integration in Autism
Purpose of the study: The Children’s Research Unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University are currently recruiting participants for a research study that examines whether multisensory integration (the brain’s processing of information from different senses) is impaired in people with autism.
Protocol summary: Information from the various sensory systems combine to form a single seamlessly integrated "multisensory" experience of the world and as such, sensory integration processes in the brain are fundamental to normal sensory, perceptual and cognitive function. Cardinal symptoms of autism include deficits in socialization, communication, and adaptive functioning and the condition is often accompanied by hypo- or hyper- sensitivity to sound, light, and touch (Kanner, 1943; Kern, Trivedi, Grannemann, Garver, Johnson, Andrews et al., 2007). It has long been proposed, based on clinical observations, that dysfunction in multisensory integration may be a major component of autism (Larocciand MacDonald, 2006). Rather remarkably, to our knowledge, there are as yet no direct investigations of the underlying neurophysiology of sensory integration deficits in the literature for this population. This research group is presently undertaking a major effort to characterize the "normal" neurophysiology of sensory integration in typically developing children, using the technique of high-density electrical mapping. We are in the process of collecting data to detail the developmental trajectory of sensory integration across childhood. In turn, these data will allow us to objectively assess sensory integration processes in clinical populations, with a major focus on autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but with potential applicability to a host of other childhood disorders that may have dysfunction of sensory processing and/or sensory integration as part of the phenotype (e.g. Speech-Language Impairment and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Under this project, we aim to establish the underlying neurophysiology of sensory integration in a cohort of children with ASD. High-density electrophysiology will provide a precise measure of when in the information processing stream processes differ from typically developing children, as well as a good model of the underlying brain processes that are affected. Importantly it will also allow us to assess if there are concomitant basic sensory processing differences that may interact with sensory integration differences. We will continue to address key questions about sensory integration in individuals with autism.
Patient Inclusion Criteria:
Basic eligibility criteria:
Both children, aged 6 years and older, and adults who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and typically developing children aged 6 years and older.
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