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The association between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and subsequent deficits in auditory processing skills is well-established in the literature. Studies examining behavioral and cortical measures of auditory processing in ASD indicate the presence of impaired speech processing skills and subsequent deficits in expressive and receptive language abilities that impact general functioning and quality of life. In this proposal, we aim to examine how auditory attention skills in adults with ASD mediates performance in auditory processing measures, including speech perception in noise, auditory filtering, noise acceptance and cortical inhibition. Auditory attention enables increased cortical neural responses to attended auditory stimuli while reducing responses to ignored stimuli. Because auditory processing abilities are significantly correlated to academic performance, it is critical to better understand mechanisms underlying auditory skills to ensure educational success. Using behavioral and objective auditory cortical event-related potentials (ERPs), we propose to test the hypothesis that differences in neurobehavioral measures of auditory attention predict auditory processing skills in adults with ASD. Understanding the role of attention in auditory processing in ASD will ensure development of evaluation and treatment techniques that specifically target underlying processes impacting hallmark communication deficits. These findings will determine the direction of our future studies so we may produce a coherent and sustained line of research related to the assessment and management of listening difficulties in ASD.
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