Show simple item record

Thermal Perceptual Thresholds are typical in Autism Spectrum Disorder but Strongly Related to Intra-individual Response Variability

dc.contributor.authorWilliams, Zachary J.
dc.contributor.authorFailla, Michelle D.
dc.contributor.authorDavis, Samona L.
dc.contributor.authorHeflin, Brynna H.
dc.contributor.authorOkitondo, Christian D.
dc.contributor.authorMoore, David J.
dc.contributor.authorCascio, Carissa J.
dc.identifier.citationWilliams, Z. J., Failla, M. D., Davis, S. L., Heflin, B. H., Okitondo, C. D., Moore, D. J., & Cascio, C. J. (2019). Thermal Perceptual Thresholds are typical in Autism Spectrum Disorder but Strongly Related to Intra-individual Response Variability. Scientific reports, 9(1), 12595.
dc.description.abstractIndividuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are often reported to exhibit an apparent indifference to pain or temperature. Leading models suggest that this behavior is the result of elevated perceptual thresholds for thermal stimuli, but data to support these assertions are inconclusive. An alternative proposal suggests that the sensory features of ASD arise from increased intra-individual perceptual variability. In this study, we measured method-of-limits warm and cool detection thresholds in 142 individuals (83 with ASD, 59 with typical development [TD], aged 7-54 years), testing relationships with diagnostic group, demographics, and clinical measures. We also investigated the relationship between detection thresholds and a novel measure of intra-individual (trial-to-trial) threshold variability, a putative index of "perceptual noise." This investigation found no differences in thermal detection thresholds between individuals with ASD and typical controls, despite large differences between groups in sensory reactivity questionnaires and modest group differences in intra-individual variability. Lower performance IQ, male sex, and higher intra-individual variability in threshold estimates were the most significant predictors of elevated detection thresholds. Although no psychophysical measure was significantly correlated with questionnaire measures of sensory hyporeactivity, large intra-individual variability may partially explain the elevated psychophysical thresholds seen in a subset of the ASD population.en_US
dc.description.sponsorshipThis work was supported by the National Institutes of Health under the following award numbers: T32GM007347, T32MH018921-27, R01MH102272, R21MH101321, UL1TR000445 from NCATS/NIH, and U54HD083211. The authors would like to thank the clinical psychologists on the team, Dr. Amy Weitlauf and Dr. Neill Broderick, for providing autism and cognitive assessments as well as clinical feedback to participants. We would also like to acknowledge Miller Tracy and Lisa Mash for their roles in data collection and management. Lastly, we would like to thank all of the participants and their families for helping to further our understanding of autism by engaging with the research community.en_US
dc.publisherScientific Reportsen_US
dc.rightsOpen Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
dc.titleThermal Perceptual Thresholds are typical in Autism Spectrum Disorder but Strongly Related to Intra-individual Response Variabilityen_US

Files in this item


This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record