Sex differences in multisensory speech processing in both typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum

Lars A. Ross, Victor A. Del Bene, Sophie Molholm, Hans Peter Frey, John J. Foxe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Previous work has revealed sizeable deficits in the abilities of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to integrate auditory and visual speech signals, with clear implications for social communication in this population. There is a strong male preponderance in ASD, with approximately four affected males for every female. The presence of sex differences in ASD symptoms suggests a sexual dimorphism in the ASD phenotype, and raises the question of whether this dimorphism extends to ASD traits in the neurotypical population. Here, we investigated possible sexual dimorphism in multisensory speech integration in both ASD and neurotypical individuals. Methods: We assessed whether males and females differed in their ability to benefit from visual speech when target words were presented under varying levels of signal-to-noise, in samples of neurotypical children and adults, and in children diagnosed with an ASD. Results: In typically developing (TD) children and children with ASD, females (n = 47 and n = 15, respectively) were significantly superior in their ability to recognize words under audiovisual listening conditions compared to males (n = 55 and n = 58, respectively). This sex difference was absent in our sample of neurotypical adults (n = 28 females; n = 28 males). Conclusions: We propose that the development of audiovisual integration is delayed in male relative to female children, a delay that is also observed in ASD. In neurotypicals, these sex differences disappear in early adulthood when females approach their performance maximum and males "catch up." Our findings underline the importance of considering sex differences in the search for autism endophenotypes and strongly encourage increased efforts to study the underrepresented population of females within ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number185
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Volume9
Issue numberMAY
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Fingerprint

Autistic Disorder
Sex Characteristics
Aptitude
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Population
Endophenotypes
Noise
Communication
Phenotype

Keywords

  • ASD
  • Audio-visual
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cross-modal
  • Development
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Sex differences in multisensory speech processing in both typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum. / Ross, Lars A.; Del Bene, Victor A.; Molholm, Sophie; Frey, Hans Peter; Foxe, John J.

In: Frontiers in Neuroscience, Vol. 9, No. MAY, 185, 2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{43e80d4daa0f48168f389af09ae087db,
title = "Sex differences in multisensory speech processing in both typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum",
abstract = "Background: Previous work has revealed sizeable deficits in the abilities of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to integrate auditory and visual speech signals, with clear implications for social communication in this population. There is a strong male preponderance in ASD, with approximately four affected males for every female. The presence of sex differences in ASD symptoms suggests a sexual dimorphism in the ASD phenotype, and raises the question of whether this dimorphism extends to ASD traits in the neurotypical population. Here, we investigated possible sexual dimorphism in multisensory speech integration in both ASD and neurotypical individuals. Methods: We assessed whether males and females differed in their ability to benefit from visual speech when target words were presented under varying levels of signal-to-noise, in samples of neurotypical children and adults, and in children diagnosed with an ASD. Results: In typically developing (TD) children and children with ASD, females (n = 47 and n = 15, respectively) were significantly superior in their ability to recognize words under audiovisual listening conditions compared to males (n = 55 and n = 58, respectively). This sex difference was absent in our sample of neurotypical adults (n = 28 females; n = 28 males). Conclusions: We propose that the development of audiovisual integration is delayed in male relative to female children, a delay that is also observed in ASD. In neurotypicals, these sex differences disappear in early adulthood when females approach their performance maximum and males {"}catch up.{"} Our findings underline the importance of considering sex differences in the search for autism endophenotypes and strongly encourage increased efforts to study the underrepresented population of females within ASD.",
keywords = "ASD, Audio-visual, Autism spectrum disorder, Cross-modal, Development, Gender, Language, Speech perception",
author = "Ross, {Lars A.} and {Del Bene}, {Victor A.} and Sophie Molholm and Frey, {Hans Peter} and Foxe, {John J.}",
year = "2015",
doi = "10.3389/fnins.2015.00185",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "9",
journal = "Frontiers in Neuroscience",
issn = "1662-4548",
publisher = "Frontiers Research Foundation",
number = "MAY",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Sex differences in multisensory speech processing in both typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum

AU - Ross, Lars A.

AU - Del Bene, Victor A.

AU - Molholm, Sophie

AU - Frey, Hans Peter

AU - Foxe, John J.

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - Background: Previous work has revealed sizeable deficits in the abilities of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to integrate auditory and visual speech signals, with clear implications for social communication in this population. There is a strong male preponderance in ASD, with approximately four affected males for every female. The presence of sex differences in ASD symptoms suggests a sexual dimorphism in the ASD phenotype, and raises the question of whether this dimorphism extends to ASD traits in the neurotypical population. Here, we investigated possible sexual dimorphism in multisensory speech integration in both ASD and neurotypical individuals. Methods: We assessed whether males and females differed in their ability to benefit from visual speech when target words were presented under varying levels of signal-to-noise, in samples of neurotypical children and adults, and in children diagnosed with an ASD. Results: In typically developing (TD) children and children with ASD, females (n = 47 and n = 15, respectively) were significantly superior in their ability to recognize words under audiovisual listening conditions compared to males (n = 55 and n = 58, respectively). This sex difference was absent in our sample of neurotypical adults (n = 28 females; n = 28 males). Conclusions: We propose that the development of audiovisual integration is delayed in male relative to female children, a delay that is also observed in ASD. In neurotypicals, these sex differences disappear in early adulthood when females approach their performance maximum and males "catch up." Our findings underline the importance of considering sex differences in the search for autism endophenotypes and strongly encourage increased efforts to study the underrepresented population of females within ASD.

AB - Background: Previous work has revealed sizeable deficits in the abilities of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to integrate auditory and visual speech signals, with clear implications for social communication in this population. There is a strong male preponderance in ASD, with approximately four affected males for every female. The presence of sex differences in ASD symptoms suggests a sexual dimorphism in the ASD phenotype, and raises the question of whether this dimorphism extends to ASD traits in the neurotypical population. Here, we investigated possible sexual dimorphism in multisensory speech integration in both ASD and neurotypical individuals. Methods: We assessed whether males and females differed in their ability to benefit from visual speech when target words were presented under varying levels of signal-to-noise, in samples of neurotypical children and adults, and in children diagnosed with an ASD. Results: In typically developing (TD) children and children with ASD, females (n = 47 and n = 15, respectively) were significantly superior in their ability to recognize words under audiovisual listening conditions compared to males (n = 55 and n = 58, respectively). This sex difference was absent in our sample of neurotypical adults (n = 28 females; n = 28 males). Conclusions: We propose that the development of audiovisual integration is delayed in male relative to female children, a delay that is also observed in ASD. In neurotypicals, these sex differences disappear in early adulthood when females approach their performance maximum and males "catch up." Our findings underline the importance of considering sex differences in the search for autism endophenotypes and strongly encourage increased efforts to study the underrepresented population of females within ASD.

KW - ASD

KW - Audio-visual

KW - Autism spectrum disorder

KW - Cross-modal

KW - Development

KW - Gender

KW - Language

KW - Speech perception

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84930650352&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84930650352&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3389/fnins.2015.00185

DO - 10.3389/fnins.2015.00185

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84930650352

VL - 9

JO - Frontiers in Neuroscience

JF - Frontiers in Neuroscience

SN - 1662-4548

IS - MAY

M1 - 185

ER -