Lifelong Tone Language Experience does not Eliminate Deficits in Neural Encoding of Pitch in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Joseph C.Y. Lau, Carol K.S. To, Judy S.K. Kwan, Xin Kang, Molly Losh, Patrick C.M. Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Atypical pitch processing is a feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects non-tone language speakers’ communication. Lifelong auditory experience has been demonstrated to modify genetically-predisposed risks for pitch processing. We examined individuals with ASD to test the hypothesis that lifelong auditory experience in tone language may eliminate impaired pitch processing in ASD. We examined children’s and adults’ Frequency-following Response (FFR), a neurophysiological component indexing early neural sensory encoding of pitch. Univariate and machine-learning-based analytics suggest less robust pitch encoding and diminished pitch distinctions in the FFR from individuals with ASD. Contrary to our hypothesis, results point to a linguistic pitch encoding impairment associated with ASD that may not be eliminated even by lifelong sensory experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3291-3310
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume51
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Frequency-following responses
  • Machine-learning
  • Neural pitch encoding
  • Tone language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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