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Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B 1998 Vol.-1 No.-1 P.

http://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B2300462


Pupillometry reveals hyper-arousal in response to auditory stimuli in autistic children


Author(s):  Ci SONG, Runsheng MA, Wei NI, Xinyue PENG, Xue LI, Ruoxi SHI, Yuanping ZHANG, Li YI

Affiliation(s):  School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; more

Corresponding email(s):   yilipku@pku.edu.cn

Key Words:  Autism spectrum disorder, Arousal, Habituation, Auditory, Pupillometry


Ci SONG, Runsheng MA, Wei NI, Xinyue PENG, Xue LI, Ruoxi SHI, Yuanping ZHANG, Li YI. Pupillometry reveals hyper-arousal in response to auditory stimuli in autistic children[J]. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B, 1998, -1(-1): .

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A1 - Li YI
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Abstract: 
Atypical sensory responsivity is widely reported in autistic individuals and is related to elevated functional difficulties. Dynamically, altered initial responses and/or habituation rates could underlie their atypical averaged responses to repeated sensory stimuli. In this study we aimed to measure the arousal level in response to different types of auditory stimuli and the dynamic change of atypical arousal level using pupillometry in autistic children. In Experiment 1, 43 autistic children and 49 neurotypical (NT) children were asked to passively listen to a mild sound and an aversive sound repeatedly. In Experiment 2, 39 autistic children and 44 NT children who went through Experiment 1 listened to a gradually emerging non-startling sound and a suddenly emerging startling sound in a random order. We found that the autistic group showed hyper-arousal in response to the aversive sound and the startling sound as reflected by their larger change in pupil area. In comparison, these autistic children demonstrated normal arousal in response to the mild sound and the non-startling sound. Dynamically, the autistic group had a larger peak pupil area change than the NT group in the first trial and a normal habituation rate to the aversive sound. In summary, our results suggest hyper-arousal to aversive and startling stimuli and the role of larger initial responses in hyper-arousal in autism. Minimizing aversive and startling sensory stimuli or gradually increasing the volume of aversive auditory stimuli to allow autistic children to adapt using the principle of habituation is recommended to reduce the arousal level and problematic behaviors of autistic children.

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