Novel Methods to Assess the Contribution of Sensorimotor Mechanisms to the Presence of Motor Stereotypy in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Objectives: To date, the contribution of motor and sensory factors to the development of stereotyped behavior has only been examined in isolation. There is a need for methods that assess the joint sensory and motor contributions to the emergence of the core features of ASD. The purpose of this study is to develop a method for objectively measuring the role of sensory feedback on motor performance in ASD at the level of both brain and behavior.
Methods: We are adapting methods from studies of normative motor development to assess the effect of sensory feedback on motor complexity in individuals with ASD and relate these metrics to concurrent neural activity. Our method involves the use of virtual reality gloves that monitor hand position in real time and provide sensory feedback in the form of vibro-tactile stimulation. Participants perform a task during which they use their index finger to track a moving stimulus on a screen. For half of the trials, participants receive online vibro-tactile feedback at the fingertip if they deviate from the stimulus, and in the other half of the trials, they do not receive vibro-tactile feedback. Performance is measured using indices of complexity of movement kinematics (via accelerometers embedded in the gloves) and neural complexity (via electroencephalography). Here, we present preliminary results from this novel approach focusing on (a) method feasibility and test-retest reliability and (b) the application of nonlinear dynamic analytic techniques to examine coupling of neural and behavioral output during this sensorimotor task.
See more of: Sensory, Motor, and Repetitive Behaviors and Interests