Autism Journal Club

Sensory perception in autism: an fMRI ALE meta-analysis

Nazia Jassim will be presenting her paper on Sensory perception in autism: an fMRI ALE meta-analysis. Nazia's twitter is @naziajassim Pre-print doi: 10.31234/ Abstract: Sensory sensitivities occur in up to 90% of autistic individuals. With the recent inclusion of sensory symptoms in the diagnostic criteria for autism, there is a current need to develop neural hypotheses related to autistic sensory perception. Using activation likelihood estimation (ALE), we meta-analysed 52 task-based fMRI studies investigating differences between autistic (n=891) and control (n=967) participants during non-social sensory perception. During complex perception, autistic groups showed more activity in the secondary somatosensory and occipital cortices, insula, caudate, superior temporal gyrus, and inferior parietal lobule, while control groups showed more activity in the frontal and parietal regions. During basic sensory processing, autistic groups showed hyperactivity in the lateral occipital cortex, primary somatosensory and motor cortices, insula, caudate, and thalamus, while controls showed heightened activity in the precentral gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, precuneus, and anterior cingulate cortex. We conclude that autistic individuals, on average, show distinct engagement of sensory-related brain networks during sensory perception. These findings may help guide future research to focus on relevant neurobiological mechanisms underpinning the autistic experience.