The objective of the proposed project is to compare and contrast multisensory representation of peripersonal space (PPS) in two clinical groups: adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SZ). The NIMH has stressed the importance of investigations that cross diagnostic categories and identify neural substrates of symptoms that are both shared and divergent across clinical groups. This project will follow this directive and extend it by focusing on basic sensory processes, which underlie more complex behavioral phenotypes and for which the neural bases are more completely understood. The project will assess the size and gradient of PPS representation in these two groups, within the hypothetical framework that shared social deficits exhibited in both groups may arise from divergent deficits in the multisensory representation of PPS. Individuals with ASD may show smaller representations of PPS and steeper gradients between PPS and extrapersonal space (EPS), reflecting a proximal focus of attention that leads to difficulty with reciprocal social interaction. In contrast, individuals with SZ are expected to show expanded PPS representation and shallower gradients between PPS and EPS, reflecting a distal or external focus that leads to problems distinguishing ownership. Both aberrant representations are predicted to relate to the specific social deficits observed in each group. We will also explor the malleability of these representations following a period of paired visual-tactile stimulation, which has been demonstrated to alter PPS representation in adults. While this exploratory aim is not designed to assess manipulating PPS representation as a treatment, and thus does not constitute an intervention study, we will assess the relationship between changes in PPS representation and social symptoms in each group as a preliminary step in determining whether there are links between these domains in ASD and SZ.

Public Health Relevance

This project addresses sensory and multisensory perception in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia (SZ) from the perspective that social deficits in both disorders stem from more basic problems with the integration of converging information from vision; touch; hearing; and proprioception. This integration defines perceptual boundaries between self and others that govern successful social interaction. The characterization of multisensory peripersonal space representation in these two groups; and an exploratory investigation of their plasticity in response to sensory training; holds great promise for the development of novel intervention paradigms for both groups.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
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Gilotty, Lisa
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
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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
Noel, Jean-Paul; Modi, Kahan; Wallace, Mark T et al. (2018) Audiovisual integration in depth: multisensory binding and gain as a function of distance. Exp Brain Res 236:1939-1951
Matusz, Pawel J; Wallace, Mark T; Murray, Micah M (2017) A multisensory perspective on object memory. Neuropsychologia 105:243-252
Noel, Jean-Paul; Cascio, Carissa J; Wallace, Mark T et al. (2017) The spatial self in schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. Schizophr Res 179:8-12
Noel, Jean-Paul; Kurela, LeAnne; Baum, Sarah H et al. (2017) Multisensory temporal function and EEG complexity in patients with epilepsy and psychogenic nonepileptic events. Epilepsy Behav 70:166-172