Evidence for diminished multisensory integration in autism spectrum disorders

J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Dec;44(12):3161-7. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2179-6.


Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibit alterations in sensory processing, including changes in the integration of information across the different sensory modalities. In the current study, we used the sound-induced flash illusion to assess multisensory integration in children with ASD and typically-developing (TD) controls. Thirty-one children with ASD and 31 age and IQ matched TD children (average age = 12 years) were presented with simple visual (i.e., flash) and auditory (i.e., beep) stimuli of varying number. In illusory conditions, a single flash was presented with 2-4 beeps. In TD children, these conditions generally result in the perception of multiple flashes, implying a perceptual fusion across vision and audition. In the present study, children with ASD were significantly less likely to perceive the illusion relative to TD controls, suggesting that multisensory integration and cross-modal binding may be weaker in some children with ASD. These results are discussed in the context of previous findings for multisensory integration in ASD and future directions for research.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / diagnosis*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*