Entrainment in autism spectrum disorder

The proposed project focuses on a fundamental behavioral phenotype in autism: inability to form precise predictions on expected events, and adaptation to novel events. This phenotype is linked to the so-called “insistence on sameness” and the inflexibility of people with autism to update their schemes following changes in the environment. This impairment has been observed from a range of perspectives, from social interactions to clinical testing, and has recently gained attention from theoretical, computational and behavioral studies. Still, a neuronal mechanism is missing.

 

The proposed project focuses on probing the neuronal dynamics associated with this abnormality, through measurement of brain tracking of visual/auditory/audiovisual stimuli, presented in various rhythms with different predictive values. It is known from previous research that external events, such as sounds and pictures, can reset the phase of brain oscillations. When a temporally predicted stimulus is anticipated, preparatory processes are engaged and behavioral response is facilitated. This facilitated processing of expected events can be seen in reaction time, in certain EEG components, and in changes of pupil size. We hypothesize that data from behavioral, EEG and pupillometry will show whether individuals with ASD, in accordance with their phenotypic insistence on sameness, will present impaired processing of predicted events, and impaired adaptation to novel events.

 

The goal of this research is to understand the brain processes that affect neural activity dynamics of predicted/novel events in the ASD brain. Results from this study have a potential to inform therapeutic to improve these apparently impaired functions.

For more information, contact Shlomit Beker at shlomit.beker@einstein.yu.edu.

TD: normal inter-regional

communication and phase alignment

ASD: impaired inter-regional

communication and phase alignment

© 2019 by CNL