Atypical mismatch negativity in response to emotional voices in people with autism spectrum conditions

Yang Teng Fan, Yawei Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are characterized by heterogeneous impairments of social reciprocity and sensory processing. Voices, similar to faces, convey socially relevant information. Whether voice processing is selectively impaired remains undetermined. This study involved recording mismatch negativity (MMN) while presenting emotionally spoken syllables dada and acoustically matched nonvocal sounds to 20 subjects with ASC and 20 healthy matched controls. The people with ASC exhibited no MMN response to emotional syllables and reduced MMN to nonvocal sounds, indicating general impairments of affective voice and acoustic discrimination. Weaker angry MMN amplitudes were associated with more autistic traits. Receiver operator characteristic analysis revealed that angry MMN amplitudes yielded a value of 0.88 (p<.001). The results suggest that people with ASC may process emotional voices in an atypical fashion already at the automatic stage. This processing abnormality can facilitate diagnosing ASC and enable social deficits in people with ASC to be predicted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere102471
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 18 Jul 2014

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