University of Oulu

Kotila, A., Hyvärinen, A., Mäkinen, L. et al. Processing of pragmatic communication in ASD: a video-based brain imaging study. Sci Rep 10, 21739 (2020).

Processing of pragmatic communication in ASD : a video-based brain imaging study

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Author: Kotila, Aija1; Hyvärinen, Aapo2; Mäkinen, Leena1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Logopedics, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Office of the Vice Chancellor, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA, Australia
4Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5PEDEGO Research Unit, The Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Child Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Medical Research Center (MRC), University and University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, The Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-02-02


Social and pragmatic difficulties in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are widely recognized, although their underlying neural level processing is not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine the activity of the brain network components linked to social and pragmatic understanding in order to reveal whether complex socio-pragmatic events evoke differences in brain activity between the ASD and control groups. Nineteen young adults (mean age 23.6 years) with ASD and 19 controls (mean age 22.7 years) were recruited for the study. The stimulus data consisted of video clips showing complex social events that demanded processing of pragmatic communication. In the analysis, the functional magnetic resonance imaging signal responses of the selected brain network components linked to social and pragmatic information processing were compared. Although the processing of the young adults with ASD was similar to that of the control group during the majority of the social scenes, differences between the groups were found in the activity of the social brain network components when the participants were observing situations with concurrent verbal and non-verbal communication events. The results suggest that the ASD group had challenges in processing concurrent multimodal cues in complex pragmatic communication situations.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 10
Article number: 21739
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-78874-2
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
3112 Neurosciences
Funding: This study was supported by the Academy of Finland, the Alma and K. A. Snellman Foundation, Oulu, Finland and Eudaimonia Institute, University of Oulu.
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