How somatic cortical maps differ in autistic and typical brains

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Abstract

The comorbidity of ‘core characteristics’ and sensorimotor abnormalities in autism implies abnormalities in brain development of a general and pervasive nature and atypical organization of sensory cortex. By using magnetoencephalography, we examined the cortical response to passive tactile stimulation of the thumb and index finger of the dominant hand and lip of the individuals with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing persons. The distance between the cortical representations of thumb and the lip was significantly larger in the autism group than in typicals. Moreover, in cortex, the thumb is typically closer to the lip than the index finger. This was not observed in persons with autism. Our findings are arguably the first demonstration of abnormality in sensory organization in the brains of persons with autism.

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