Atypical integration of multisensory inputs has been suggested as a major component of autism, with some clinical and behavior-based empirical support for this view. Where and when in the neural processing stream these sensory integration deficits occur is as yet unknown, and gaining an understanding of this will be essential in defining the neuropathology of autism. In fact, there is precious little understanding of the basic development of healthy sensory integration mechanisms in typically developing children, although recent work in animal models is beginning to shed some light. Under this project, we will use established electrophysiological metrics of multisensory integration that we have developed in our laboratory in healthy adults, to test the hypothesis that multisensory integration is impaired in autism. The high-density electrical recordings of neural activity that we record will provide a precise measure of when in the information processing stream sensory integration differs from typically developing matched controls, as well as a good model of the underlying brain processes that are affected. We expect that there are profound developmental effects on how multisensory inputs are treated and we will therefore also characterize the "normal" developmental trajectory of multisensory integration in typically developing children, using a cross-sectional approach. Specific hypotheses about when and where multisensory processes will be affected in autism are made based on the thesis that there is impoverished connectivity between distant cortical regions in this population, and our predictions are predicated on a rudimentary three-stage model of multisensory integration that we have developed in light of the extant literature. The data acquired under this project will provide a strong empirical test of deficits in multisensory integration processes in autism. Understanding how multisensory integration develops and changes over childhood will significantly inform models of multisensory integration, and provide an initial benchmark against which predictions about possible disordered multisensory integration in a host of developmental disorders can be made.

Public Health Relevance

The failure of integration across the sensory modalities is thought to be a core deficit in a number of clinical populations, especially in autism spectrum disorders but also in schizophrenia. In order to understand how it is that sensory integration goes awry in such patients, we must first develop a clear understanding of how the healthy brain integrates auditory, visual and somatosensory inputs from the environment. This project sets out to delineate the developmental trajectory of the neurophysiological processes underlying multisensory processing in the human cortex in children from 6 to 15 years of age, and to test the integrity of multisensory processes in children with autism. The results will have implications both for the clinical management of individuals with autism, as well as for models of autism.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH085322-05
Application #
8384852
Study Section
Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section (CPDD)
Program Officer
Gilotty, Lisa
Project Start
2009-01-01
Project End
2014-11-30
Budget Start
2012-12-01
Budget End
2014-11-30
Support Year
5
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$524,517
Indirect Cost
$208,543
Name
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Department
Pediatrics
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
110521739
City
Bronx
State
NY
Country
United States
Zip Code
10461
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Murphy, Jeremy W; Foxe, John J; Peters, Joanna B et al. (2014) Susceptibility to distraction in autism spectrum disorder: probing the integrity of oscillatory alpha-band suppression mechanisms. Autism Res 7:442-58
Morie, Kristen P; De Sanctis, Pierfilippo; Garavan, Hugh et al. (2014) Executive dysfunction and reward dysregulation: a high-density electrical mapping study in cocaine abusers. Neuropharmacology 85:397-407
Frey, Hans-Peter; Schmid, Anita M; Murphy, Jeremy W et al. (2014) Modulation of early cortical processing during divided attention to non-contiguous locations. Eur J Neurosci 39:1499-507
Altschuler, Ted S; Molholm, Sophie; Butler, John S et al. (2014) The effort to close the gap: tracking the development of illusory contour processing from childhood to adulthood with high-density electrical mapping. Neuroimage 90:360-73
Foxe, John J; Murphy, Jeremy W; De Sanctis, Pierfilippo (2014) Throwing out the rules: anticipatory alpha-band oscillatory attention mechanisms during task-set reconfigurations. Eur J Neurosci 39:1960-72
De Sanctis, Pierfilippo; Butler, John S; Malcolm, Brenda R et al. (2014) Recalibration of inhibitory control systems during walking-related dual-task interference: a mobile brain-body imaging (MOBI) study. Neuroimage 94:55-64
Shpaner, Marina; Molholm, Sophie; Forde, Emmajane et al. (2013) Disambiguating the roles of area V1 and the lateral occipital complex (LOC) in contour integration. Neuroimage 69:146-56

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