Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sussex scientists pinpoint sensory links between autism and synaesthesia - NEUROSCIENCE

Concrete links between the symptoms of autism and synaesthesia have been discovered and clarified for the first time, according to new research by psychologists at the University of Sussex.

The study, conducted by world-leading experts in both conditions at Sussex and the University of Cambridge and published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that both groups experience remarkably similar heightened sensory sensitivity, despite clear differences in communicative ability and social skills.

Two previous studies had found an increased prevalence of synaesthesia in autistic subjects, suggesting that although they are not always found in conjunction, the two conditions occur together more often than would be expected by chance alone. However, this is the first study that has attempted to draw a definitive symptomatic link between the two.

Synaesthesia and autism seem on the surface to be rather different things, with synaesthesia defined as a 'joining of the senses' in which music may trigger colours or words may trigger tastes, and autism defined by impaired social understanding and communication.

The new research shows that both groups report heightened sensory sensitivity, such as an aversion to certain sounds and lights, as well as reporting differences in their tendency to attend to detail.

However, the synaesthetes tended not to report difficulties on the traditional communicative symptoms that usually define autism. While the research shows that there are certainly links between the two conditions, these appear to be sensory rather than social.

Source and further reading:

Journal article:

Source: Corina Marinescu

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