Aims: To test basic aspects of perception, such as face processing, and attention to patterns, whilst measuring event related potentials (ERP).
Background: Many aspects of perception and cognition are different in autistic people and ERP provides a low-cost form of neuroimaging where we can study the temporal dynamics of information processing in the autistic and neurotypical brain whilst the person is looking at stimuli on a computer screen or doing a task. ERP also provides some spatial information about where different electrical activity is located, on the surface of the brain, but is more limited in terms of this spatial resolution compared to other forms of brain imaging such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Nevertheless, the temporal resolution is superior to MRI and allows us to answer highly specific questions about components of a task and how the autistic brain achieves these.
Methods: ERP, located either in Douglas House or in the Hershel Smith Building on the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site.
Results: Different ERP studies have documented a range of differences, both in face perception (in an electrical wave called the N100) and in attentional tasks (in patterns of connectivity).
Importance: ERP is a tool for basic cognitive neuroscience and is teaching us about the microstructure of the brain basis of perception and cognition in autism.
Relevance: Primarily for neuroscientists, but with the prospect of stratifying autistic people into subgroups that might have value for predicting prognosis.
Funding: The Autism Research Trust, the Medical Research Council
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