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      Is synesthesia more common in patients with Asperger syndrome?

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          There is increasing evidence from case reports that synesthesia is more common in individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Further, genes related to synesthesia have also been found to be linked to ASC and, similar to synaesthetes, individuals with ASC show altered brain connectivity and unusual brain activation during sensory processing. However, up to now a systematic investigation of whether synesthesia is more common in ASC patients is missing. The aim of the current pilot study was to test this hypothesis by investigating a group of patients diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) using questionnaires and standard consistency tests in order to classify them as grapheme-color synaesthetes. The results indicate that there are indeed many more grapheme-color synaesthetes among AS patients. This finding is discussed in relation to different theories regarding the development of synesthesia as well as altered sensory processing in autism.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Vision in autism spectrum disorders.

          Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are developmental disorders which are thought primarily to affect social functioning. However, there is now a growing body of evidence that unusual sensory processing is at least a concomitant and possibly the cause of many of the behavioural signs and symptoms of ASD. A comprehensive and critical review of the phenomenological, empirical, neuroscientific and theoretical literature pertaining to visual processing in ASD is presented, along with a brief justification of a new theory which may help to explain some of the data, and link it with other current hypotheses about the genetic and neural aetiologies of this enigmatic condition.
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            Sensory processing in autism: a review of neurophysiologic findings.

            Atypical sensory-based behaviors are a ubiquitous feature of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In this article, we review the neural underpinnings of sensory processing in autism by reviewing the literature on neurophysiological responses to auditory, tactile, and visual stimuli in autistic individuals. We review studies of unimodal sensory processing and multisensory integration that use a variety of neuroimaging techniques, including electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and functional MRI. We then explore the impact of covert and overt attention on sensory processing. With additional characterization, neurophysiologic profiles of sensory processing in ASD may serve as valuable biomarkers for diagnosis and monitoring of therapeutic interventions for autism and reveal potential strategies and target brain regions for therapeutic interventions.
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              Abnormalities of intrinsic functional connectivity in autism spectrum disorders.

              Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) impact social functioning and communication, and individuals with these disorders often have restrictive and repetitive behaviors. Accumulating data indicate that ASD is associated with alterations of neural circuitry. Functional MRI (FMRI) studies have focused on connectivity in the context of psychological tasks. However, even in the absence of a task, the brain exhibits a high degree of functional connectivity, known as intrinsic or resting connectivity. Notably, the default network, which includes the posterior cingulate cortex, retro-splenial, lateral parietal cortex/angular gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal gyrus, temporal lobe, and parahippocampal gyrus, is strongly active when there is no task. Altered intrinsic connectivity within the default network may underlie offline processing that may actuate ASD impairments. Using FMRI, we sought to evaluate intrinsic connectivity within the default network in ASD. Relative to controls, the ASD group showed weaker connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and superior frontal gyrus and stronger connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and both the right temporal lobe and right parahippocampal gyrus. Moreover, poorer social functioning in the ASD group was correlated with weaker connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and the superior frontal gyrus. In addition, more severe restricted and repetitive behaviors in ASD were correlated with stronger connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and right parahippocampal gyrus. These findings indicate that ASD subjects show altered intrinsic connectivity within the default network, and connectivity between these structures is associated with specific ASD symptoms.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                09 December 2013
                : 7
                1Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading Reading, UK
                2Department of Clinical Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry, and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School Hannover, Germany
                3Deparment of Medical Statistics, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany
                4Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf Hamburg, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Nicolas Rothen, University of Sussex, UK

                Reviewed by: Simon Baron-Cohen, University of Cambridge, UK; Laurent Mottron, hôpital Rivière des Prairies, Canada

                *Correspondence: Markus Zedler, Department Clinical Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry, and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str., 1 (OE 7110), 30625 Hannover, Germany e-mail: zedler.markus@

                This article was submitted to the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

                Copyright © 2013 Neufeld, Roy, Zapf, Sinke, Emrich, Prox-Vagedes, Dillo and Zedler.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 68, Pages: 12, Words: 9176
                Original Research Article


                prevalence, synesthesia, asperger syndrome, development, autism


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