The effect of ambient sounds on decision-making and heart rate variability in autism.
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Bellamy, R., Ring, H., Watson, P., Kemp, A., Munn, G., & Clare, I. (2021). The effect of ambient sounds on decision-making and heart rate variability in autism.. Autism, 25 (8. ARTN 13623613211014993), 2209-2222. https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613211014993
LAY ABSTRACT: Many autistic people report difficulties making decisions during everyday tasks, such as shopping. To examine the effect of sounds on decision-making, we developed a supermarket task where people watched a film shown from the shopper's perspective and were asked to make decisions between different products. The task was divided into three sections and participants completed each section in a different auditory environment: (1) no sounds, (2) non-social sounds (e.g. fridges humming) and (3) social sounds (e.g. people talking). Thirty-eight autistic and 37 neurotypical adults took part. We measured decision-making by examining how long it took to make a decision and how consistent people were with their decisions. We also measured heart rate variability because this biological response provides a measure of anxiety. After the supermarket shopping task, participants told us in their own words about their experiences. Autistic participants said that they found the non-social and social sound conditions more difficult than the no sound condition, and autistic participants found the social sound condition more negative than neurotypical participants. However, decision-making and heart rate variability were similar for autistic and neurotypical participants across the sound conditions, suggesting that these measures may not have been sensitive enough to reflect the experiences the autistic participants reported. Further research should consider alternative measures to explore the experiences reported by autistic people to help us understand which specific aspects of the environment autistic people are sensitive to. This, in turn, may enable more specific and evidence-based autism-friendly changes to be made.
ambient non-social sounds, ambient social sounds, attraction effect, autism friendly environments, autism spectrum conditions, autism spectrum disorders, autistic adults, decision-making, heart rate variability, supermarket shopping task, Adult, Anxiety Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Heart Rate, Humans
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/14)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613211014993
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/331322
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