Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 351–360 | Cite as

Temporal Processing Instability with Millisecond Accuracy is a Cardinal Feature of Sensorimotor Impairments in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Analysis Using the Synchronized Finger-Tapping Task

  • Chie Morimoto
  • Eisuke Hida
  • Keisuke Shima
  • Hitoshi Okamura
Original Paper


To identify a specific sensorimotor impairment feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we focused on temporal processing with millisecond accuracy. A synchronized finger-tapping task was used to characterize temporal processing in individuals with ASD as compared to typically developing (TD) individuals. We found that individuals with ASD showed more variability in temporal processing parameters than TD individuals. In addition, temporal processing instability was related to altered motor performance. Further, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses indicated that altered temporal processing can be useful for distinguishing between individuals with and without ASD. These results suggest that instability of temporal processing with millisecond accuracy is a fundamental feature of sensorimotor impairments in ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Objective evaluation index Temporal processing Increased variability The cerebellum 



We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of all participants and their families, and also the school officials involved in this study. We thank K. Hashimoto, M. Kakehashi, K. Yamaoka, M. Walters, Y. Ohnishi, and members of Okamura’s lab for their helpful advice and discussions. We also thank Rachel James, Ph.D., from Edanz Group ( for editing a draft of this manuscript.


The authors did not receive any financial support for this study.

Author Contributions

CM and HO desinged the study. KS contributed the experimental tool. CM performed the data collection. CM and EH analyzed the data. CM, EH, KS and HO wrote the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2017_3334_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (875 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 1 Typical waveforms for finger-tapping distance in each group (PDF 875 KB)
10803_2017_3334_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (895 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 2 Typical waveforms for finger-tapping velocity in each group (PDF 894 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Graduate School of Biomedical & Health SciencesHiroshima UniversityHiroshimaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics and Data Science, Graduate School of MedicineOsaka UniversitySuitaJapan
  3. 3.Division of Intelligent Systems Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan

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