Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1845–1857 | Cite as

Fragile Spectral and Temporal Auditory Processing in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Early Language Delay

  • Bart Boets
  • Judith Verhoeven
  • Jan Wouters
  • Jean Steyaert
Original Paper


We investigated low-level auditory spectral and temporal processing in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and early language delay compared to matched typically developing controls. Auditory measures were designed to target right versus left auditory cortex processing (i.e. frequency discrimination and slow amplitude modulation (AM) detection versus gap-in-noise detection and faster AM detection), and to pinpoint the task and stimulus characteristics underlying putative superior spectral processing in ASD. We observed impaired frequency discrimination in the ASD group and suggestive evidence of poorer temporal resolution as indexed by gap-in-noise detection thresholds. These findings question the evidence of enhanced spectral sensitivity in ASD and do not support the hypothesis of superior right and inferior left hemispheric auditory processing in ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Auditory processing Hemispheric lateralization Spectral Temporal Pitch 



Bart Boets is a post-doctoral research fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar. The research was financed by a grant from the Research Council of KU Leuven (IDO/08/013). We thank Heleen Luts, Thea Van Werde and Loes Verber for assistance with testing, and all participating children and their families for their time and effort.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bart Boets
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Judith Verhoeven
    • 3
    • 5
  • Jan Wouters
    • 4
  • Jean Steyaert
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of NeurosciencesUniversity of Leuven (KU Leuven)LeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Brain and Cognitive SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department for EpilepsyKempenhaegheHeezeThe Netherlands
  4. 4.ExpORL, Department of NeurosciencesUniversity of Leuven (KU Leuven)LeuvenBelgium
  5. 5.Leuven Autism Research (LAuRes)University of Leuven (KU Leuven)LeuvenBelgium

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