File(s) stored somewhere else

Please note: Linked content is NOT stored on Carnegie Mellon University and we can't guarantee its availability, quality, security or accept any liability.

Unreliable Evoked Responses in Autism

journal contribution
posted on 01.09.2012, 00:00 by Ilan Dinstein, David J. Heeger, Lauren Lorenzi, Nancy Minshew, Rafael Malach, Marlene Behrmann

Autism has been described as a disorder of general neural processing, but the particular processing characteristics that might be abnormal in autism have mostly remained obscure. Here, we present evidence of one such characteristic: poor evoked response reliability. We compared cortical response amplitude and reliability (consistency across trials) in visual, auditory, and somatosensory cortices of high-functioning individuals with autism and controls. Mean response amplitudes were statistically indistinguishable across groups, yet trial-by-trial response reliability was significantly weaker in autism, yielding smaller signal-to-noise ratios in all sensory systems. Response reliability differences were evident only in evoked cortical responses and not in ongoing resting-state activity. These findings reveal that abnormally unreliable cortical responses, even to elementary nonsocial sensory stimuli, may represent a fundamental physiological alteration of neural processing in autism. The results motivate a critical expansion of autism research to determine whether (and how) basic neural processing properties such as reliability, plasticity, and adaptation/habituation are altered in autism.