Auditory attention in autism spectrum disorder: An exploration of volumetric magnetic resonance imaging findings

Sanam J. Lalani, Tyler C. Duffield, Haley G. Trontel, Erin D. Bigler, Tracy J. Abildskov, Alyson Froehlich, Molly B.D. Prigge, Brittany G. Travers, Jeffrey S. Anderson, Brandon A. Zielinski, Andrew Alexander, Nicholas Lange, Janet E. Lainhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Studies have shown that individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to perform significantly below typically developing individuals on standardized measures of attention, even when controlling for IQ. The current study sought to examine within ASD whether anatomical correlates of attention performance differed between those with average to above-average IQ (AIQ group) and those with low-average to borderline ability (LIQ group) as well as in comparison to typically developing controls (TDC). Using automated volumetric analyses, we examined regional volume of classic attention areas including the superior frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex, and precuneus in ASD AIQ (n = 38) and LIQ (n = 18) individuals along with 30 TDC. Auditory attention performance was assessed using subtests of the Test of Memory and Learning (TOMAL) compared among the groups and then correlated with regional brain volumes. Analyses revealed group differences in attention. The three groups did not differ significantly on any auditory attention-related brain volumes; however, trends toward significant size–attention function interactions were observed. Negative correlations were found between the volume of the precuneus and auditory attention performance for the AIQ ASD group, indicating larger volume related to poorer performance. Implications for general attention functioning and dysfunctional neural connectivity in ASD are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-517
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 28 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory attention
  • attention
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • volumetric findings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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