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Atypical communicative abilities are a core marker of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). A number of studies have shown that, in addition to auditory comprehension differences, individuals with autism frequently show atypical responses to audiovisual speech, suggesting a multisensory contribution to these communicative differences from their typically developing peers. To shed light on possible differences in the maturation of audiovisual speech integration, we tested younger (ages 6–12) and older (ages 13–18) children with and without ASD on a task indexing such multisensory integration. To do this, we used the McGurk effect, in which the pairing of incongruent auditory and visual speech tokens typically results in the perception of a fused percept distinct from the auditory and visual signals, indicative of active integration of the two channels conveying speech information. Whereas little difference was seen in audiovisual speech processing (i.e., reports of McGurk fusion) between the younger ASD and TD groups, there was a significant difference at the older ages. While TD controls exhibited an increased rate of fusion (i.e., integration) with age, children with ASD failed to show this increase. These data suggest arrested development of audiovisual speech integration in ASD. The results are discussed in light of the extant literature and necessary next steps in research.
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- Brief Report: Arrested Development of Audiovisual Speech Perception in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Ryan A. Stevenson
Justin K. Siemann
Tiffany G. Woynaroski
Brittany C. Schneider
Haley E. Eberly
Stephen M. Camarata
Mark T. Wallace
- Springer US