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Presentation by Dr. Krista Hyde

Auditory processing in autism: insights from behavioral and brain imaging studies

Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects about 1 in 110 individuals, but its etiology is unknown. ASD is characterized by social and communication deficits, repetitive behaviors and atypical sensory perception, particularly in the auditory domain. Individuals with ASD demonstrate enhanced low-level and/or locally-oriented auditory processing (e.g., pure tone pitch discrimination, perception of local pitch changes in melodies), but diminished higher-level auditory processing (e.g., emotional recognition of human voices). However, to date, reports of auditory differences in ASD have largely been based on clinical observation or anecdotal parental reports. Thus, there is a need for further empirical research to be done in the laboratory setting investigating auditory differences at a behavioral level, and in correlation with brain studies to examine the neural bases of auditory perceptual differences in ASD. To this aim, my lab is currently studying how atypical auditory perception (particularly spectral/ temporal and local/global processing) in ASD is reflected at the level of both brain structure and function. In this talk, I will present our recent findings of behavioral, brain structural and functional differences in auditory perception in ASD with respect to current theories of atypical sensory perception in ASD. Studying auditory processing differences in ASD serves as a model to investigate individual differences in atypical sensory processing along the autism spectrum, which may lead to better-defined ASD endophenotypes.  More generally, this work allows us to examine the relationship between atypical sensory processing, brain structure and function in atypical development.

Bio: Dr. Krista Hyde’s research mission is to better understand the brain and behavioral basis of human complex auditory processing in the contexts of music and speech. She uses a multi-disciplinary approach by combining Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) methods of brain structure and function, with behavioral and cognitive measures. To investigate developmental aspects of auditory processing, Dr. Hyde conducts studies in both typically-developing adults and children. A special research interest is to study auditory processing in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.  She is currently launching a major research effort to examine the interaction between brain, behavioral and genetic factors in children with autism.

Dr. Hyde completed her Ph.D. at the University of Montreal, and postdoctoral work at the McConnell Brain Imaging Center at the Montreal Neurological Institute in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University.


May 26 2011


4:00 pm - 5:00 pm




BRAMS - Université de Montréal
1430 boul Mont Royal


BRAMS - Université de Montréal

BRAMS (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research) is a unique laboratory dedicated to research excellence in the study of music and auditory cognition with a focus on neuroscience. BRAMS is located in Montreal and jointly affiliated with the University of Montreal and McGill University.


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