Auditory temporal-envelope processing in high-functioning children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Neuropsychologia. 2012 Jun;50(7):1235-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.01.034. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) perform worse than controls when listening to speech in a temporally modulated noise (Alcántara, Weisblatt, Moore, & Bolton, 2004; Groen et al., 2009). The current study examined whether this is due to poor auditory temporal-envelope processing. Temporal modulation transfer functions were measured in 6 high-functioning children with ASD and 6 control listeners, using sinusoidal amplitude modulation of a broadband noise. Modulation-depth thresholds at low modulation rates were significantly higher for the ASD group than for the Control group, and generally higher at all modulation rates tested. Low-pass filter model estimates of temporal-envelope resolution and temporal-processing efficiency showed significant differences between the groups for modulation-depth threshold values at low modulation rates. Intensity increment-detection thresholds, measured on a subset of individuals in the ASD and Control groups, were not significantly different. The results are consistent with ASD individuals having reduced processing efficiency of temporal modulations. Possible neural mechanisms that might underlie these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*