For a study, atypical reliance on visual and somatosensory feedback was reported during motor behaviors in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suggested that impairments were not specific to one sensory domain but may instead reflect a deficit in multisensory processing, resulting in reliance on unimodal feedback. The researchers aimed to test this hypothesis by examining motor behavior across different visual and somatosensory feedback conditions during a visually guided precision grip force test. Patients with ASD (N=43) and age-matched typically developing (TD) controls (N=23), ages 10–20 years, completed a test of precision gripping. Researchers pressed on force transducers with their index finger and thumb while receiving visual feedback on a computer screen in the form of a horizontal bar that moved upwards with increased force. While TD controls showed increased force variability with the tendon vibration on compared to off, individuals with ASD showed similar force variability across tendon vibration conditions. Individuals with ASD showed more robust age-associated reductions in force variability relative to controls across states. The ASD group also showed more significant age-related increases in force irregularity than controls, especially at higher gain levels and when the tendon vibrator was turned on. Researchers documented more substantial age-associated gains in force control in ASD relative to TD, suggesting delayed development of multisensory feedback control of motor behavior.
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