Similarities in the phenotype of the auditory neural substrate in children with Asperger syndrome and their parents


Dr Eira Jansson-Verkasalo, 1Cognitive Brain Research Unit, as above.


Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder of brain function characterized by deficits in social interaction including difficulties in understanding emotional expressions. Children with AS share some of the behavioural characteristics with their parents and AS seems to run particularly in the male members of the same families. The aim of the present study was to determine whether similarities could be found between children with AS and their parents at central auditory processing. It was found that in children with AS the sound encoding, as reflected by the exogenous components of event-related potentials, was similarly abnormal as in both their mothers and fathers. However, their abnormal cortical auditory discrimination, as indexed by the prolonged latency of the mismatch negativity, resembled that of their fathers but not that of their mothers. The present results suggest that complex genetic mechanisms may contribute to auditory abnormalities encountered in children with AS.