Defensive Neurophysiological Response: Exploring the Neural and Autonoic Correlates of Social Behavior
Patriquin, Michelle Anne
MetadataShow full item record
Current literature suggests neurological (i.e., insula, amygdala) and autonomic (i.e., respiratory sinus arrhythmia; RSA) markers of language, social, and behavioral challenges in autism spectrum disorders (ASD; Bal et al., 2010; DiMartino, Ross, et al., 2009; Lorenzi, Patriquin, & Scarpa, 2011; Patriquin, Scarpa, Friedman, & Porges, 2011), that hypothetically reflect a defensive neurophysiological circuit (i.e., hyper-arousal within the central and autonomic nervous systems). It is unknown how this neurophysiological state contributes to difficulties in ASD. Therefore, the current study quantified peripheral and central nervous system activity and investigated how this neurophysiological circuit may be related to different social and behavioral patterns that characterize ASD. Participants with (n = 16) and without (n = 30) ASD listened to classical music while brain (via functional magnetic resonance imaging) and autonomic (via pulse oximeter and plethysmogram) data were collected. Results indicated that decreased insula and amygdala activity during physiological hyper-aroused states predicted symptoms associated with ASD, and predicted higher levels of comorbid anxiety, stress, and depression. Contrary to hypotheses, no baseline RSA or amygdala differences were noted between ASD and controls groups, suggesting that adults with ASD may have developed effective coping strategies for reducing physiological threat responses. It will be important for future studies to continue to explore and clarify the neural connections of peripheral nervous system activation in individuals with and without ASD, including extending this research to children.
- Doctoral Dissertations