The Auditory Brainstem Response and Autism
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The goal of this thesis is to explain the use of the auditory brainstem response (ABR) in research on autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Following an explanation of the ABR and its evolution as a diagnostic and research tool in many fields, we concentrate on its role in autism research. ASD is a complex disorder and likewise has a complex etiology including genetic and environmental factors, among which may include brainstem abnormalities. ABR demonstrates these abnormalities; slower conduction and increased latencies have been observed in the ASD population more frequently than in the normal population. These studies have led to a range of theories on the contribution of brainstem and neural development to ASD. Although data has been historically inconsistent at times, patterns have emerged that may prove ABR a useful diagnostic predictor for ASD and reveal differences in subpopulations of patients with ASD, including gender differences.