Delayed mismatch field for speech and non-speech sounds in children with autism

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This study investigated the magnetic mismatch field elicited by changes in streams of vowels or spectrally matched tones in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) relative to children with typical development to explore whether impaired sound discrimination may contribute to language impairments in autism spectrum disorder. Using magnetoencephalography, we recorded evoked neural activity to 300-Hz and 700-Hz tones (and /u/ and /a/ vowels) presented in an oddball paradigm with deviant stimuli (15%) occurring within a train of standards (85%). The magnetic mismatch field was robustly observed in both groups, but children with autism spectrum disorder demonstrated a significantly delayed magnetic mismatch field compared with typically developing peers. Difficulty parsing transient differences in sounds may lead to impaired acoustic or phonological representations and subsequent language impairment in autism spectrum disorder.

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