Edited By: David G. Amaral, Ph.D
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Wiley holds the deep belief that scientific excellence cannot be achieved without inclusion and equity. We fully acknowledge that much more needs to be done and we are dedicated to doing better so we can all be better. As an initial step, Wiley is a signatory of the Joint Committee for Action on Inclusivity and Diversity in Publishing, and Autism Research is committed to supporting this vital work.
Figurative language processing in autism spectrum disorders: A review
-  10 December 2023
Difficulties related to figurative language processing are commonly observed among autistic individuals. However both the extent and the exact source of these difficulties remain controversial. We reviewed studies from the last decade examining the processing of different subtypes of nonliteral language in ASD, including metaphors, idioms and verbal irony with a focus on the role of ToM, language abilities, and EFs in figurative language comprehension. This review highlights the importance of using low-verbal nonliteral language tasks and argues that ToM, language skills, and EFs may have independent contributions to autistic individuals' ability to process nonliteral forms of language.
Corneal structural alterations in autism spectrum disorder: An in vivo confocal microscopy study
-  5 December 2023
This study examined the corneal structural alteration in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM). Both ASD adults' and healthy controls' eyes received gradings for the level of morphological mosaicism of the Kobayashi structure (K-grading) based on the IVCM images. We found that K-grading was significantly higher in ASD adults than in the controls (p < 0.001). Besides, a higher K-grading was associated with a lower tendency of visual sensation seeking and lower sensory registration (i.e., higher sensory threshold). This study provided novel evidence of corneal structural alterations in ASD, supporting the previous hypothesis regarding the association between ASD and connectivity tissue abnormalities.
Endophenotyping social cognition in the broader autism phenotype
-  30 November 2023
Relatives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may display milder but qualitatively similar traits known as the broader autism phenotype (BAP). Current knowledge of the BAP is limited and methods to assess traits are not well established. This study aimed to characterize the BAP based on objective measures of social skills. This can allow the identification of BAP traits that indicate genetic risk for ASD in families with many individuals with ASD or the BAP. We studied recognition of socially inappropriate behavior and language (a faux pas) as our objective measure of social cognition, and verbal fluency in social conversation as our objective measure of language pragmatics in 25 individuals with the BAP compared to 33 neurotypical participants. Individuals with the BAP showed atypical social cognition with reduced ability to recognize a faux pas, as well as altered language pragmatics with decreased verbal fluency. We then examined social cognition in 34 families (159 members) with ASD and the BAP. Across all families, autistic individuals showed the weakest faux pas recognition, followed by those with the BAP and relatives without autistic traits compared to community controls. This inherited pattern of graded difficulties in social cognition suggests that atypical faux pas recognition may be a marker of genetic risk for ASD. This may facilitate studies investigating the genetic causes of ASD by providing researchers with objective markers of the BAP to better understand neurodivergence in this population.
Scene construction and autobiographical memory retrieval in autism spectrum disorder
-  30 November 2023
Difficulties in retrieving memories of specific events are well documented in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although it is commonly thought that these difficulties arise from a deficit in ASD individuals' social cognitive abilities, a growing literature suggests that a separate, parallel deficit also exists in the ability to mentally reconstruct aspects of the space, or scene, in which a remembered event occurred. In this review, we discuss what is known about the scene construction deficit in ASD and how its consideration might impact future research.
Auditory language comprehension among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: An ALE meta-analysis of fMRI studies
-  29 November 2023
By synthesizing previous fMRI research findings, we compared brain activity of children and adolescents with and without autism during auditory language comprehension. We found that certain brain regions were active in both groups, while others were only active in non-autistic individuals. Furthermore, certain brain areas were less active in the autism group. These findings contribute to our understanding of the challenges of children and adolescents with autism in comprehending spoken language.