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J Autism Dev Disord. 1989 Mar;19(1):1-17.

Pathophysiologic findings in nonretarded autism and receptive developmental language disorder.

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Neuropsychology Research Laboratory, Children's Hospital Research Center, San Diego, California 92123.


In nonretarded autistic, receptive developmental language disordered, and normal subject groups, we recorded in auditory and visual target detection tasks two neurophysiological components of the event-related brain potential, Nc and P3b. Existent research shows that, in normals, Nc and P3b appear early in development, are associated with attention and memory processes, and are endogenous which means that they are triggered by internal, consciously initiated attentional and cognitive mechanisms and that they can be triggered even by the omission of sensory stimulation so long as it has meaning or importance for the subject. In this report, Nc and P3b were recorded in response to auditory and visual stimulation and to the omission of auditory and visual stimulation. Consistent with the hypothesis that non-retarded autism involves abnormal attentional and cognitive responses to important information, P3b was found to be smaller than normal and Nc was small and often absent in the nonretarded autistic group even under the condition when no auditory language or sensory processing was required. Receptive developmental language disorder has been linked with difficulties in processing sequences of auditory stimuli, and in this study P3b was found to be somewhat enlarged in this group even under the conditions when P3b was elicited by stimuli separated by 1 sec and also when P3b was elicited by the omission of stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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