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Impaired Timing and Frequency Discrimination in High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) frequently demonstrate preserved or enhanced frequency perception but impaired timing perception. The present study investigated the processing of spectral and temporal information in 12 adolescents with ASD and 15 age-matched controls. Participants completed two psychoacoustic tasks: one determined frequency difference limens, and the other determined gap detection thresholds. Results showed impaired frequency discrimination at the highest standard frequency in the ASD group but no overall difference between groups. However, when groups were defined by auditory hyper-sensitivity, a group difference arose. For the gap detection task, the ASD group demonstrated elevated thresholds. This supports previous research demonstrating a deficit in ASD in temporal perception and suggests a connection between hyper-sensitivity and frequency discrimination abilities.



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