Visual and linguistic narrative comprehension in autism spectrum disorders: Neural evidence for modality-independent impairments

Emily L. Coderre, Neil Cohn, Sally K. Slipher, Mariya Chernenok, Kerry Ledoux, Barry Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have notable language difficulties, including with understanding narratives. However, most narrative comprehension studies have used written or spoken narratives, making it unclear whether narrative difficulties stem from language impairments or more global impairments in the kinds of general cognitive processes (such as understanding meaning and structural sequencing) that are involved in narrative comprehension. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we directly compared semantic comprehension of linguistic narratives (short sentences) and visual narratives (comic panels) in adults with ASD and typically-developing (TD) adults. Compared to the TD group, the ASD group showed reduced N400 effects for both linguistic and visual narratives, suggesting comprehension impairments for both types of narratives and thereby implicating a more domain-general impairment. Based on these results, we propose that individuals with ASD use a more bottom-up style of processing during narrative comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-59
Number of pages16
JournalBrain and Language
Volume186
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Event-related potentials
  • N400
  • Narrative comprehension
  • Visual narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

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