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Our lab’s strongest clinical focus is on sensory processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autistic individuals often report atypical sensory perception, usually in the form of hyper- or hypo-sensitivity. We are currently exploring how sensory processing differences in ASD may impact the daily lives of autistic individuals, from social communication to cognition.
One aspect we are particularly interested in, as with the overall focus of the lab, is the ability to integrate, or perceptually bind, sensory information. In many ways, autistic individuals show intact or even enhanced sensory processing abilities, particularly when focusing on the components, or details of a visual scene, for example. In other cases, such as the ability to integrate what is seen and heard, autistic individuals may have difficulties. Our current research investigates:
- What is the underlying nature of the differences in sensory processing observed in ASD?
- What areas show sensory difficulties, and likewise, what processes show sensory enhancements?
- Most importantly, how do sensory processing differences impact social communication, repetitive behaviours, and cognition in autistic populations?
Our lab also looks at how we can harness individuals perceptual learning abilities to improve upon areas of sensory processing difficulty in autistic individuals. Specifically, we test volunteers on a number of tasks before and after a perceptual learning paradigm, which allows us to measure both the perceptual, behavioural, and neural impacts of the training paradigm. Our end goal is to create novel remediation strategies that will have the ability to not only improve sensory processing in autistic individuals, but to also improve the higher-level processes that rely on sensory processing, such as social communication, in autistic children and adults.
For media reports on this line of work, see our In the Media page, and for peer-reviewed work, see:
Stevenson, R. A., Segers, M., Ferber, S., Barense, M.D., & Wallace, M.T. (2016). Keeping time in the brain: Autism spectrum disorder and audiovisual temporal processing. Autism Research, 9(7), 720-738.
Baum, S. H., Stevenson, R. A., & Wallace, M. T. (2015). Connecting sights and sounds: Examining sensory function and multisensory integration in autism. Progress in Neurobiology, 134, 140-160.
Baum, S., Stevenson, R. A., & Wallace, M. T. (2015). Testing sensory and multisensory function in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 98, e53677.
Stevenson, R. A., Siemann, J. K., Woynaroski, T. G., Schneider, B. C., Eberly, H. E., Camarata, S. M., & Wallace, M. T. (2014). Multisensory temporal integration in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Neurocience, 34(3), 691-697.
Stevenson, R. A., Segers, M., Ferber, S., Barense, M.D., & Wallace, M.T. (2014). The impact of multisensory integration deficits on speech perception in children with autism spectrum disorders. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(379), 1-4.
Stevenson, R. A., Siemann, J. K, Schneider, B. C., Eberly, H. E., Woynaroski, T. G., Camarata, S. M., & Wallace, M. T. (2014). Arrested development of audiovisual speech perception in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 44(6), 1470-1477.
Stevenson, R. A., Siemann, J. K, Schneider, B. C., Eberly, H. E., Woynaroski, T. G., Camarata, S. M., & Wallace, M. T. (2014). Evidence for diminished multisensory integration in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 44(12), 3161-3167.
Wallace, M. T. & Stevenson, R. A. (2014). The construct of the multisensory temporal binding window and its dysregulation in developmental disabilities. Neuropsychologia, 64, 105-123.
Woynaroski, T. G., Kwayke, L., Foss-Feig, J. H., Stevenson, R. A., Stone, W. L., & Wallace, M. T. (2013). Multisensory speech perception in high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(12), 2897-2902.
Stevenson, R. A. (2012). Using functional connectivity analysis to investigate the bases of autism spectrum disorders and other clinical populations. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(50): 17933-17934.