Altered sensory experiences are prevalent in autism and have been implicated in not only the core behavioral characteristics of impaired social communication and repetitive behaviors, but in a range of associated comorbidities including sleep disturbances2 and anxiety24. Recent work in the sensory domain strongly suggests that the predictability, or lack thereof, of sensory stimuli heavily influences aberrant reactions and mediates relations between sensory sensitivity, anxiety, and social motivation in autism78-79. Most sensory research thus far has emphasized exteroceptive sensation?sensory signals that originate in the external environment?with less work on interoceptive sensation?sensory signals that arise from the viscera and skin to signal the brain about the physiological condition of the body6. These interoceptive cues are often the precursors of emotional experience, and thus have significant transdiagnostic clinical relevance in psychiatry. Evaluation of the emotional relevance of the external environment?within which social stimuli are embedded?requires a continuous exchange of information between exteroceptive and interoceptive processing streams. In other words, successful navigation of the social world depends on multisensory integration across the body boundary. Critically for autism, many visceral interoceptive signals tend to be very rhythmic (e.g., cardiac signals), and/or are under voluntary control (e.g., respiratory signals) and are thus far more predictable than environmental exteroceptive cues. This predictability is enhanced on average in individuals with autism, who tend to have higher heart rates and lower heart rate variability than controls. In the current project period, we found evidence for profoundly disrupted temporal integration of visceral interoceptive and exteroceptive signals, without clear evidence of disrupted interoception alone. We now propose, in this renewal, to isolate and test potential neural drivers and clinical sequelae of this disrupted integration. The proposed work will provide important new insights into the consequences of sensory processing deficits in autism that go beyond exteroceptive sensation, incorporating a sensory milieu that has high relevance for social-emotional functioning.

Public Health Relevance

Differences in reaction to the sensory environment are an important feature of autism. Most of our knowledge about sensory differences in autism come from studies of systems like vision that inform the brain about the external environment, but the brain has massive sensory input from within the body?the internal sensory environment, including signals from the heart, lungs, and gut. The integration of internal and external sensory signals are important for social interaction and emotional regulation, and the proposed study will advance our understanding of how and why this integration is different in autism, and its effects on core symptoms and co- occurring anxiety.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH102272-07
Application #
10021715
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Gilotty, Lisa
Project Start
2014-08-07
Project End
2024-07-31
Budget Start
2020-08-01
Budget End
2021-07-31
Support Year
7
Fiscal Year
2020
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Department
Type
DUNS #
079917897
City
Nashville
State
TN
Country
United States
Zip Code
37232
Damiano-Goodwin, Cara R; Woynaroski, Tiffany G; Simon, David M et al. (2018) Developmental sequelae and neurophysiologic substrates of sensory seeking in infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder. Dev Cogn Neurosci 29:41-53
Noel, Jean-Paul; Lytle, Marisa; Cascio, Carissa et al. (2018) Disrupted integration of exteroceptive and interoceptive signaling in autism spectrum disorder. Autism Res 11:194-205
Williams, Zachary J; Failla, Michelle D; Gotham, Katherine O et al. (2018) Psychometric Evaluation of the Short Sensory Profile in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 48:4231-4249
Failla, Michelle D; Moana-Filho, Estephan J; Essick, Greg K et al. (2018) Initially intact neural responses to pain in autism are diminished during sustained pain. Autism 22:669-683
Mash, Lisa E; Schauder, Kimberly B; Cochran, Channing et al. (2017) Associations Between Interoceptive Cognition and Age in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typical Development. J Cogn Educ Psychol 16:23-37
Failla, Michelle D; Peters, Brittany R; Karbasforoushan, Haleh et al. (2017) Intrainsular connectivity and somatosensory responsiveness in young children with ASD. Mol Autism 8:25
Simon, David M; Damiano, Cara R; Woynaroski, Tiffany G et al. (2017) Neural Correlates of Sensory Hyporesponsiveness in Toddlers at High Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 47:2710-2722
Foss-Feig, Jennifer H; McGugin, Rankin W; Gauthier, Isabel et al. (2016) A functional neuroimaging study of fusiform response to restricted interests in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. J Neurodev Disord 8:15
Schauder, Kimberly B; Mash, Lisa E; Bryant, Lauren K et al. (2015) Interoceptive ability and body awareness in autism spectrum disorder. J Exp Child Psychol 131:193-200
Cascio, Carissa J; Gu, Chang; Schauder, Kimberly B et al. (2015) Somatosensory Event-Related Potentials and Association with Tactile Behavioral Responsiveness Patterns in Children with ASD. Brain Topogr 28:895-903

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications