Background: Integration of information from multiple sensory sources is an important prerequisite for successful social behavior, especially during face-to-face conversation. It has been suggested that communicative impairments among individuals with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) might be caused by an inability to integrate synchronously presented visual and auditory cues.
Method: We investigated audiovisual integration of speech stimuli among a group of high-functioning adult PDD individuals and age- and IQ-matched controls using electroencephalography, measuring both early pre-phonological, as well as late phonologically driven integration.
Results: Pre-phonological AV interactions are intact, while AV interactions corresponding to more complex phonological processes are impaired in individuals with PDD.
Conclusions: The present findings argue for a pattern of impairments on tasks related to complex audiovisual integration combined with relative sparing of low-level integrational abilities. This combination may very well contribute to the communicative disabilities which are typical for the disorder.