February 2022
Volume 22, Issue 3
Open Access
Optica Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   February 2022
Invited Session V: GABAergic function and dysfunction in visual perception: Sensory processing in autism: Translational markers and circuit-level insights
Author Affiliations
  • Caroline Robertson
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Hanover, NH USA
Journal of Vision February 2022, Vol.22, 57. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.3.57
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      Caroline Robertson; Invited Session V: GABAergic function and dysfunction in visual perception: Sensory processing in autism: Translational markers and circuit-level insights. Journal of Vision 2022;22(3):57. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.3.57.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Atypical sensory experience is estimated to occur in as many as 90% of autistic individuals and to affect every sensory modality: taste, touch, audition, olfaction and vision. Because the neural computations underlying sensory processing are relatively well understood in typically developing individuals and are conserved between humans and other animals, sensory paradigms have considerable potential for shedding light on autistic neurobiology. But are sensory traits, in fact, core phenotypic markers of autism? In this talk, I will argue that the answer is “yes”. The evidence I review shows that the autistic cortex is affected by distinct, low-level changes in neural circuitry that is dedicated to perceptual processing (including primary sensory areas). Further, perceptual symptoms in individuals with autism are evident early in development, account for independent variance in diagnostic criteria of the condition, and show a persistent relationship to clinical measures of higher-order social cognition and behavior. Finally, I will present data from a recent line of work in my laboratory using behavioral, neuroimaging, and pharmacological techniques to identify a marker of autism in low-level visual processing, which has provided concrete insight into the neurobiology of autism in humans.

Footnotes
 Funding: None
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