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A Neural Model for Compensation of Sensory Abnormalities in Autism Through Feedback From a Measure of Global Perception

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1 Author(s)
Noriega, G. ; RMS Instrum. Ltd., Mississauga, ON

Sensory abnormalities and weak central coherence (WCC), a processing bias for features and local information, are important characteristics associated with autism. This paper introduces a self-organizing map (SOM)-based computational model of sensory abnormalities in autism, and of a feedback system to compensate for them. Feedback relies on a measure of balance of coverage over four (sensory) domains. Different methods to compute this measure are discussed, as is the flexibility to configure the system using different control mechanisms. Statistically significant improvements throughout training are demonstrated for compensation of a simple (i.e., monotonically decreasing) hypersensitivity in one of the domains. Fine-tuning control parameters can lead to further gains, but a standard setup results in good performance. Significant improvements are also shown for complex hypersensitivities (i.e., increasing and decreasing through time) in two domains. Although naturally best suited to compensate hypersensitivities-stimuli filtering may mitigate neuron migration to a hypersensitive domain-the system is also shown to perform effectively when compensating hyposensitivities. With poor coverage balance in the model akin to poor global perception, WCC would be consistent with inadequate feedback, resulting in uncontrolled hyper- and/or hyposensitivities characteristic of autism, as seen in the topologies of the resulting SOMs.

Published in:

Neural Networks, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 8 )