Atypical Neural Responding to Hearing One’s Own Name in Adults With ASD

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Diminished responding to hearing one’s own name is one of the earliest and strongest predictors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here, we studied, for the first time, the neural correlates of hearing one’s own name in ASD. Based on existing research, we hypothesized enhancement of late parietal positive activity specifically for the own name in neurotypicals, and for this effect to be reduced in adults with ASD. Source localization analyses were conducted to estimate group differences in brain regions underlying this effect. Twenty-one adults with ASD, and 21 age- and gender-matched neurotypicals were presented with 3 categories of names (own name, close other, unknown other) as task-irrelevant deviant stimuli in an auditory oddball paradigm while electroencephalogram was recorded. As expected, late parietal positivity was observed specifically for own names in neurotypicals, indicating enhanced attention to the own name. This preferential effect was absent in the ASD group. This group difference was associated with diminished activation in the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) in adults with ASD. Further, a familiarity effect was found for N1 amplitude, with larger amplitudes for familiar names (own name and close other). However, groups did not differ for this effect. These findings provide evidence of atypical neural responding to hearing one’s own name in adults with ASD, suggesting a deficit in self–other distinction associated with rTPJ dysfunction.

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