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Autism Res. 2017 Jun;10(6):1045-1057. doi: 10.1002/aur.1760. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Perception of odors and tastes in autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review of assessments.

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Laboratory of Neurosciences of Brest (EA4685), University of Western Brittany, Brest, France.
UMR-CNRS 6552, Animal and Human Ethology University of Rennes 1-CNRS, Rennes Cedex, France.
Department of ENT, University Hospital of Brest, Brest Cedex, France.
Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Brest, Brest Cedex, France.
University Hospital of Limoges, Expert Center of Autism Limousin, Limoges Cedex, France (É.L.).


Olfaction and gustation are major sensory functions implied in processing environmental stimuli. Some evidences suggest that loss of olfactory function is an early biomarker for neurodegenerative disorders and atypical processing of odor and taste stimuli is present in several neurodevelopmental disorders, notably in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In this paper, we conducted a systematic review investigating the assessments of olfaction and gustation with psychophysics methods in individuals with ASD. Pubmed, PMC and Sciencedirect were scrutinized for relevant literature published from 1970 to 2015. In this review, fourteen papers met our inclusion criteria. They were analyzed critically in order to evaluate the occurrence of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction in ASD, as well as to report the methods used to assess olfaction and gustation in such conditions. Regarding to these two senses, the overall number of studies is low. Most of studies show significant difference regarding to odor or taste identification but not for detection threshold. Overall, odor rating through pleasantness, intensity and familiarity do not differ significantly between control and individuals with ASD. The current evidences can suggest the presence of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction in ASD. Therefore, our analysis show a heterogeneity of findings. This is due to several methodological limitations such as the tools used or population studied. Understanding these disorders could help to shed light on other atypical behavior in this population such as feeding or social behavior. Autism Res 2017, 0: 000-000. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Autism Res 2017, 10: 1045-1057.


autism spectrum disorders; psychophysics; review; sensory dysfunctions; sensory system

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