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Autism and auditory brain stem responses.

Journal article
Authors Rosenhall Ulf
Nordin Viviann
Brantberg Krister
Christopher Gillberg
Published in Ear and Hearing
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 206-214
ISSN 0196-0202
Publication year 2003
Published at Institute for the Health of Women and Children, Dept of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Pages 206-214
Language en
Keywords Adolescent, Adult, Autistic Disorder/complications, physiopathology, Case-Control Studies, Child, Child Preschool, Cochlear Nerve, physiopathology, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem, Female, Hearing Loss, etiology, Physiopathology, Humans, Male, Reaction Time
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences, Psychiatry


OBJECTIVE: To study a controversy that has been discussed for more than two decades: whether or not children with autism have abnormalities affecting the cochlear nerve or the auditory pathway in the brain stem and, if so, to describe these abnormalities. DESIGN: A group of 153 children and adolescents with autistic disorder were included in an investigation of auditory brain stem responses (ABR). Two thirds of this group, 101 individuals (75 boys, 26 girls), had normal hearing and they were selected for an in-depth ABR study. The results from the study group were compared with those of an age-matched comparison group. RESULTS: The III-V interpeak latency (IPL) was significantly prolonged in both boys and girls with autism, compared with the controls. The latencies of ABR waves I and V were also significantly lengthened in the study groups. The individual test results showed that more than half of this normal-hearing autistic disorder group (58%) had abnormalities of one or more of eight ABR parameters studied. The most common abnormalities were prolongation of wave V (38%), and of I-V IPL (28%). A lengthening of the I-V IPL was also recorded in 27% of 49 children who were difficult to test or who had hearing loss. Abnormal left-right differences of ABR latencies were found in 18% of autism cases with normal hearing. CONCLUSIONS: Possible causes of the reported ABR abnormalities, observed here as well as in other studies, are discussed. Brain stem lesion, occult cochlear dysfunction, and involvement of the cochlear efferent system are probable factors that can explain the ABR findings

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