Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia are more likely to perceive asynchronous auditory and visual events as occurring simultaneously even if they are well separated in time. This stronger tendency to bind temporally-discrete audiovisual stimuli may cascade into unusual perceptual experiences in schizophrenia and impaired communicative and language skills in autism. However, it remains unclear whether similar difficulties in audiovisual temporal processing (the temporal binding window, TBW) are present in individuals with high level of autistic and schizotypal traits. Moreover, little is known about the neural substrates underlying the considerable individual difference in the TBW width.
Dr. Raymond Chan’s team from Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience (NACN) Laboratory, CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology has conducted a study to examine the relationship between these traits and the audiovisual TBW width for both non-speech and speech stimuli in a group of 115 young adults. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) resting-state activity was also acquired to explore the neural correlates underlying inter-individual variability of TBW width. Their findings showed that the ability to detect audiovisual asynchrony was not affected by different levels of autistic and schizotypal traits. Across the entire sample, stronger resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) between the left superior temporal cortex and the left precuneus, and weaker rsFC between the left cerebellum and the right dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex were correlated with a narrower TBW for speech stimuli. Stronger rsFC between the left anterior superior temporal gyrus and the right inferior temporal gyrus was correlated with a wider audiovisual TBW for non-speech stimuli. Taken together, these findings indicate that audiovisual temporal processing may not be affected by autistic and schizotypal traits and connectivity of some brain regions engaging in multisensory and timing tasks might explain an individual’s tendency to bind multisensory information within a wide or narrow time window.
This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Programme, the National Science Foundation China, and the CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, the Institute of Psychology.
This study is now published online in Autism Research
Zhou, H. Y., Wang, Y. M., Zhang, R. T., Cheung, E. F. C., Pantelis, C., Chan, R. C. K.* (2020). Neural correlates of audiovisual temporal binding window in individuals with schizotypal and autistic traits: Evidence from resting-state functional connectivity. Autism Research.
- Zhou, H. Y., Cheung, E. F. C., & Chan, R. C. K. *(2020). Audiovisual temporal integration: Cognitive processing, neural mechanisms, developmental trajectory and potential interventions. Neuropsychologia, 140, 107396.
- Zhou, H. Y., Cai, X. L., Weigl, M., Bang, P., Cheung, E. F. C., Chan, R. C. K.* (2018). Multisensory temporal binding window in autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 86, 66-76.
Ms. LIU Chen
Institute of Psychology