Neural noise and autism spectrum disorders

Simmons, D.R., McKay, L., McAleer, P., Toal, E., Robertson, A. and Pollick, F.E. (2007) Neural noise and autism spectrum disorders. Perception, 36, pp. 119-120.

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A curious aspect of the sensory symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), not explained by current neural theories, is the combination of hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity to sensory signals (Baranek et al, 2006 Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47 591 - 601). Could increased levels of neural noise be the underlying neural symptom of this? Normally the addition of noise to a signal will result in masking, but, if both signal and noise amplitudes are relatively low, stochastic resonance phenomena can amplify the signal, resulting in better-than-expected detectability. The developmental consequences of the presence of this noise from early life provide a neat explanation of many of the social and non-social symptoms of ASDs and their spectrum nature (ie high functioning individuals would have relatively lower levels of neural noise, especially in adulthood). This theory suggests that the best way to examine visual performance in ASDs is to use paradigms based on detecting or discriminating signals in noisy backgrounds. Our preliminary results with such paradigms are encouraging.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robertson, Dr Ashley and Pollick, Professor Frank and Simmons, Dr David
Authors: Simmons, D.R., McKay, L., McAleer, P., Toal, E., Robertson, A., and Pollick, F.E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Perception

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