Washington: A new study has revealed that children with autism spectrum disorders have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears.
The study, led by Mark Wallace, PhD, director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, is the first to illustrate the link and strongly suggests that deficits in the sensory building blocks for language and communication can ultimately hamper social and communication skills in children with autism.
The findings could have much broader applications because sensory functioning is also changed in developmental disabilities such as dyslexia and schizophrenia, Wallace said.
In the study, Vanderbilt researchers compared 32 typically developing children ages 6-18 years old with 32 high-functioning children with autism, matching the groups in virtually every possible way including IQ.
It was found that children with autism have an enlargement in something known as the temporal binding window (TBW), meaning the brain has trouble associating visual and auditory events that happen within a certain period of time.
A second part of the study found that children with autism also showed weaknesses in how strongly they "bound" or associated audiovisual speech stimuli.
The study was published in the journal of Neuroscience.